How Difficult is it to Die Broke? Take a Lesson from Limbaugh

March 24, 2021

Some people wish to live each day like it is their last, spending down all the money they have while they are alive. Others believe charity begins in a well-written estate plan that lets them leave a legacy of goodwill, even if there is only a small portion to give. Others simply want children and grandchildren to earn their wealth on their own, without the safety net of an inheritance. Both plans take some expert planning – and a lot more work than you may think.

Structuring your wealth so it supports you in life and still makes a difference after death is a delicate balance. And it is not that easy to die broke. Just ask Monty Brewster, the baseball player in the 1985 Richard Pryor comedy Brewster’s Millions, who must spend $30 million in 30 days to inherit $300 million from a distant relative. He embarks on a frantic spending spree, including mailing a postcard with a $1.25 million stamp just to get rid of the cash.

Rush Limbaugh: He Lived His Legacy
In real life you can ask the widow of radio host Rush Limbaugh, who died of lung cancer in February 2021 and left an estate valued at a reported $600 million. Several years before, he had declared his plan to “die broke,” leaving nothing behind. Kathryn Limbaugh is the combative conservative’s wife and only heir, as the couple had no children in their 10-year marriage.

It might have been Limbaugh’s quick demise, only a year after his diagnosis, that pulled the plug on his die-broke plan. More likely, it was the sheer size of his estate. According to Yahoo Finance, he earned $85 million a year from his radio show and had numerous real estate holdings including a $26 million home in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was No. 11 on Forbes’ list of rich celebrities and, according to Celebrity Net Worth, was the second highest-paid radio host in 2019 (behind Howard Stern).

Despite Limbaugh’s caustic image, he also ranked No. 4 on Forbes’ list of generous celebrities in 2008, Yahoo Finance says. Citing various sources, the finance website reports that Limbaugh’s gifts that year included $4.2 million to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation and says he raised more than $47 million over several years for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America.

Insiders say Limbaugh had a complex plan for managing his assets, including forming an LLC and setting up the Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh Charitable Foundation. Those arrangements make it more likely that his wish to die broke was just one of the headline-making boasts Limbaugh was famous for.

If he had been serious about it, he would have had to spend wildly to get rid of everything before death. The Limbaughs lived in Florida, a state where the surviving spouse is protected from being completely shut out of a spouse’s inheritance and allowed to remain in the family home.

So, if you too are married to someone as mind-bogglingly rich as Rush, you have nothing to worry about. But if you want to die broke, you’d better get started spending now.

“I want to die broke” is easy to say when you are a well-off celebrity like Rush Limbaugh, but the rest of us need a strong estate plan in place when we bow out. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at  (954) 251-0332 or info@ocestatelawyers.comto get started with a free phone consultation. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian.