In the words of Penn State’s late football coach Joe Paterno:

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.”

Paterno’s family have discovered yet another unsavory situation. Their unsuccessful attempt at sealing his will from public view has left them with a bitter aftertaste. They have finally realized that a will, regardless of celebrity status, is a document that must be submitted for probate and consequently, becomes public record.

If they wanted to satisfy their palate for privacy, the assets should have been transferred to a living trust or revocable trust. In South Florida, trust formation eliminates the need for probate and does not become public record. The decedent’s net worth and the identity of beneficiaries remain protected from snooping, unwelcome eyes.

However, transferring assets into a trust does not necessary mean you should not have a will in place. What if you unintentionally left out an asset? Do you have minor children? Drafting a proper will ensures all your assets are accounted for and that a guardian is appointed to care for your children in the event you pass away.

Now that Joe’s 1997 will and 2012 codicil are available for our entertainment, apparently there is nothing particularly special or scandalous surrounding its contents.

But what does raise a brow or two is why his family thought they could hide the document from Nittany Lions or the rest of the world.

If you have family, friends or even a charitable intent, the absence of an estate plan is inexcusable. For more information on successful Florida estate planning and probate techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at to schedule your free consultation.

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?