Estate Planning Lessons from the Rich and Famous

Some celebrity estates are embroiled in the media and legal battles while others remain private and relatively peaceful. Here are some lessons learned from the estates of the rich and famous.

Fund Your Revocable Trust
Recently deceased Paul Walker set up a trust for the benefit of his minor daughter. However, he failed to fund it so it will eventually be funded under the terms of his pour-over will when the probate is closed. His will and his reportedly $25,000,000 in assets is now public record through the probate court proceedings in Santa Barbara, California.

Elizabeth Taylor’s estate has enjoyed relatively minor mention in the media and no court battles. The legendary actress properly executed and funded her trust during her life. Since all her assets were held in trust, there are no probate filings of her will, there is no public record of her assets and, so far, no lawsuits.

Update Your Documents
The tragic death of Heath Ledger was even more difficult for his family when it was discovered that his will had not be updated in over 3 years. Heath failed to update his estate planning documents when his daughter was born and the will provided that everything would go to his parents and siblings. The family eventually decided to give everything to his minor daughter but only after some nasty public accusations and squabbling.

Parent Your Children from Beyond the Grave
Philip Seymour Hoffman, like many New Yorkers, did not have a revocable living trust but instead created testamentary trusts under the provisions in his will. The will has interesting language that requests that his children live in New York, Chicago or San Francisco to enable them to live a life surrounded by culture, the arts and architecture. If this is impractical, then he directs that the children should visit one of these cities at least twice a year.

State Bar of California
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