Lee B. Thomas Jr. helped found the ACLU of Kentucky and marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Louisville; he died yesterday, according to The Courier-Journal. Thomas and his wife established the Joan and Lee Thomas Foundation; with $19 million in assets, it ranks among the biggest in the city.
Kentucky generates about $50 million in revenue annually by taxing money or property bequeathed to a deceased person’s relatives, though not close relatives like children or a spouse — a levy that a state legislative committee is considering eliminating altogether.
Like many opponents of the tax, the head of the libertarian-leaning Bluegrass Institute says government shouldn’t be producing revenue off the efforts of people who generated the wealth in the first place because “they’ve already . . . paid the taxes on it during their lifetime,” Jim Waters told WFPL.
Except, that’s often not true. Consider one of the biggest sources of family wealth: unrealized gains on stocks, and the following example: Continue reading “Reality check: Debunking a canard about Kentucky’s endangered inheritance tax”
That’s one reading of this week’s Voice-Tribune obituaries, where Dr. W. Ronald “Ron” Harris‘ sendoff takes pains to note that Harris wrestled so well on his high school team, he won a wrestling scholarship to an unidentified Florida university. But! “His mother didn’t tell him he was accepted there until later,” the obit says. “She wanted more for her son.”
He wound up at the University of Louisville, according to the society news weekly. Harris died Aug. 5.
Only 10 years ago, just 3% of the internments at storied Cave Hill Cemetery involved cremations. Today, the cemetery estimates the rate has soared to 37%. The statewide rate is lower: 22%, but across the U.S., it’s nearly 47%.
No wonder. A traditional funeral in the U.S. costs $8,000 to $10,000, with the single-biggest expense being a casket, averaging $2,300 — a pricey item cremation doesn’t require. Urns for ashes, on the other hand, are a lot cheaper, such as the $139.95 one pictured, left.
The cemetery’s more famous permanent residents include KFC founder Harland Sanders.
Related: Read more about Louisville cemeteries, and funeral homes. Much of the state’s funeral industry is regulated by the state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors; the board publishes industry laws and regulations, including requirements for inspections and publicly available price lists for caskets and other merchandise, plus services.
Photo, top: the cemetery’s iconic entrance at Broadway and Baxter.
Boulevard occasionally examines estates and estate planning by high-profile Louisville residents.
Ten years ago, former Courier-Journal Publisher Barry Bingham Jr. died of respiratory failure, less than two months after signing his last will and testament. He was 72 years old. The 13-page document’s preamble suggests a very religious man:
“In the name of God, amen! I, G. Barry Bingham Jr., a resident of Jefferson County, Ky., in perfect health and memory, God be praised, hereby revoke all wills and codicils heretofore made by men, and do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following; that is to say, first, I commend my soul into the hands of God, my creator, hoping and assuredly believing through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Savior, to be made partaker of life everlasting, and my body to the earth whereof it is made.”
Thereafter, though, it’s all business and few other insights into a man at the center of one of the greatest family business dramas in Louisville history. The will provides no special bequests to anyone by name, perhaps instead leaving that to his widow, Edie.
Bingham’s will was recorded with the county clerk 10 days after he died April 3, 2006. It didn’t value his overall estate, including only a few financial details: His half-interest in the family’s storied Melcombe seat in Glenview was worth $2 million. And a separate list of personal property totaled another $2.2 million — including, interestingly, gold South African Krugerrand coins then worth $852,000.
A postscript: The family sold Melcombe for $3 million in 2014, reportedly to his daughter Molly.
I wonder why?
Related: The Courier-Journal’s obituaries. Notable burials at Louisville’s storied Cave Hill Cemetery. Retirement planning demystified. Jessica Mitford’s seminal investigation into the funeral industry, The American Way of Death. And HBO’s hit series Six Feet Under, set in a family-owned funeral home.