Stephen Sondheim will leaves $75 million to spouse, arts and charities

The Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim who died in November left an estate worth $75 million to his spouse, arts charities and friends, the Mail reports this month.

The songwriter of West Side Story’s estate included the rights to his music and literary works, his personal effects and finances.

The New York Post reported that he had designated 20 people and charities as beneficiaries, including Jeffrey Romley, Sondheim’s husband.

Benefits left to charities and organisations

Other beneficiaries are his Into the Woods collaborator, James Lapine, and playwright Peter Jones. The Smithsonian Institute, the Museum of New York City, the Irish Repertory Theatre Company and the Library of Congress are among the charities and organisations that will benefit from his will too.

Sondheim died at his home in Connecticut on 26 November. He was 91.

In Sondheim’s will, he also named a soon to be established Stephen Sondheim Foundation as another of his beneficiaries. Other names listed in the will include Rob Girard, his gardener for 14 years, and his close friend, home designer Charles Peter Wooster, who lived on Sondheim’s Connecticut property in a carriage house, the New York Times reports.

‘Pour-over will’

The Mail article quotes a lawyer source. Sondheim’s will specified that his estate goes into the Stephen J Sondheim Revocable Trust – something referred to as a ‘pour-over will’ where everything goes into a trust and is a “classic estate planning technique”.

Ciarán O’Reilly and Charlotte Moore, the co-founders of the Irish Repertory Theatre, called the bequest “a lovely surprise”. In a statement, they said that Sondheim had never failed to honour them with his “staunch support”, especially of their musicals and musical adaptations.

According to the New York Post, a New York trust lawyer not involved in the Sondheim’s case said the composer had managed his estate well, with someone close to him managing his musical legacy through inheriting his intellectual property.

The lawyer said Sondheim had worked with the US’s top planning attorneys and had a very good plan in place that would benefit his spouse, his friends and the charities that were important to him. The will also ensured that his intellectual property was kept in order, with someone in charge of managing his musical legacy.

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