Tag Archives: wills and trusts

What’s In Store For Robin Williams’ Estate and Family?

The initial shock of Robin Williams’ tragic death, apparently from hanging himself, is giving way to reflections of his memory and legacy. Another question many people are asking is what happens next for his family. He was survived by his third wife, Susan Schneider, to whom he was married for three years, and three adult children from his prior two marriages, whose ages range from 22 to 31. There is a realistic fear that Williams’ death left may have left them in financial distress.  Robin Williams Estate

In an interview with Parade Magazine in 2013, Williams lamented how he was required to change his lifestyle because of how much he lost in his two divorces (reportedly, $30 million). He said he returned to TV because of “bills to pay.” Williams also admitted to listing his Napa Valley estate for sale because he could no longer afford it.

Robin Williams’ publicist recently said that he was not in financial trouble and his comments were not to be taken seriously.  Regardless of whether his publicist Read more...

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Philip Seymour Hoffman Highlights Five Myths About Trusts

He may have been a brilliant actor, but Philip Seymour Hoffman had much to learn when it came to estate planning.  Reports surfaced last week that the former Oscar winner repeatedly rejected the advice of his attorney and accountant, both of whom advised him to create a trust.  He said he didn’t want his three children to be “trust funds kids.”  Philip Seymour Hoffman Highlights Five Myths About Trusts

Instead, he felt their mother — and his longtime girlfriend — would take care of them.  He viewed Mimi O’Donnell much like a wife, although he did not believe in marriage.

Sadly, because of Hoffman’s aversion to proper estate planning, his 34 million dollar estate faces a huge estate tax bill and other problems that could (and should) have been avoided if he had listened to the legal and financial advice he was given. Hoffman’s girlfriend and children would have been much better off if he had done the proper estate planning, with a revocable living trust (at the very least).

Philip Seymour Hoffman Didn’t Want Trust Fund Kids

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Lou Reed Walked On The Wild Side With His Estate Planning

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, Lou Reed was the man who famously crooned, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.”  The late lead singer and guitarist of The Velvet Underground — and of course, a musician and songwriter with a successful, decades-long solo career — may have been a bit wild at times.  But that doesn’t explain why he would be so careless with his estate plan.  This is a man with an estate worth more than $30 million — perhaps substantially more, in fact.  Lou Reed. Schinitzer Concert Hall Portland, OR

Recent filings with the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan (that’s probate court, for us non-New Yorkers) show that Lou Reed’s estate has already earned $20,379,169 (give or take a few bucks) since he passed away from liver disease on October 27, 2013, at the age of 71.  This is only the income that Lou Reed’s estate has brought in since his death, from his copyright, publishing and performance royalties and other deals put together under the skillful management of his longtime manager Read more...

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Whitney Houston’s Family Is Fighting – Is Estate Money To Blame?

Whitney Houston’s family has been through its share of disagreements since the pop diva passed away on February 11, 2012.  Early on, there was trouble at the funeral, sparking concerns of a feud with Bobby Brown.  Recently, however, the trouble has centered around Nick Gordon.  Gordon was raised and treated like a son by Whitney Houston, from the time he was 12 years old.

Whitney Houston estate

Rather than looking at Whitney Houston’s Daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, as a sister, Gordon (now age 24) and Bobbi Kristina (who just turned 21) have recently gotten married.  The tabloids are having fun with that relationship!  Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston, reportedly called the relationship “incestuous” when they were dating.  Now that they are actually married, TMZ says Cissy was furious, but she hasn’t spoken publicly about it since then.

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Oscar Winners Teach Five Lessons On Estate Planning

The 2014 Oscars are complete.  Trial & Heirs looks back at past Oscar winners like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Heath Ledger, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando.  Their estates illustrate important estate planning lessons that everyone can benefit from — even those who aren’t walking the red carpet at the Oscars.  Oscar Winner: Philip Seymour Hoffman Estate

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman Estate Planning Lesson:  You Can Be Creative With Your Will or Trust

There were many mistakes and pitfalls with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate (including no estate tax planning and his failure to use a revocable living trust, as we discuss in our article).  But, Hoffman — whose portrayal of Capote earned him the Best Actor Oscar in 2006 — didn’t do everything wrong.

He gets credit for a key component of estate planning that many people overlook: creativity.  Estate planning is not meant to be “fill in the blank” or “one-size fits all.”  You can use your will or trust to pass along your goals, values and moral beliefs.  Most people think wills and trusts Read more...

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Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Will Highlights 4 Estate Planning Pitfalls

Oscar-winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, died on February 2nd from a drug overdose.  Recently, his long-time girlfriend and mother of his three children, Marianne O’Donnell, filed to open Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate and to probate his will.  While there are many lessons that can be drawn from his will, there are four main estate planning pitfalls that serve as important lessons:

1.  Philip Seymour Hoffman Should Have Created A Revocable Living Trust.

Philip Seymour Hoffman will

The reason that Hoffman’s will is public and available for anyone to read (you can click here to read it for yourself), is because he relied on a will — and only a will — for his estate plan.  For most people with even a modest estate, revocable living trusts are critical.

Why?  When properly used, they help families avoid the costs, aggravation, and delays caused by the probate process.  Probate court proceedings are public record (meaning anyone can read the will — even your nosy neighbor!), and are expensive, difficult to maneuver without an attorney, and Read more...

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Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate

Paul William Walker IPaul Walker EstateV was the star of the Fast & Furious movies, until his unfortunate — and ironic — death in a high-speed car accident on November 30, 2013.  The car, in which Walker was a passenger, was found to have been doing at least 100 mph.  Walker was 40 years old when he died, survived by his parents and his 15-year old daughter, Meadow Rain Walker.

Recently, Paul Walker’s father filed to open the estate, including Walker’s Last Will and Testament, which you can read here: Read Paul Walker’s Will.  It sheds some interesting information about the Paul Walker Estate and highlights some valuable estate planning lessons.

First, the probate filing and will reveal that Walker had assets of about 25 million dollars, including 8 million in personal property (which would include cash and investments), $8.5 in expected income, and another $8.5 million in real estate (after subtracting mortgages).

Second, the filing shows that Walker had a revocable living trust, benefiting his daughter as the sole Read more...

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The Ongoing Feud Of The National Enquirer Heirs: The Pope Family

Perhaps this tale should be unsurprising considering it involves heirs of the tabloid fortune built around the concept:  “Inquiring minds want to know!”  Two of the heirs of the tabloid founder, Generoso Pope, have engaged in dueling lawsuits for years — culminating in allegations of kidnapping, fraud, extortion, and even an arrest for criminal stalking.  All between a son and his mother.

The National Enquirer heirs

The National Enquirer

Generoso Pope was the founder of the National Enquirer.  He died in 1988, leaving behind a will and trust that called for the company to be sold. Generoso’s youngest son, Paul Pope, desperately wanted to buy and run the tabloid, but was unable to raise enough money.  Reportedly, it sold for $412.5 million, with $200 million going to Lois Pope — Generoso’s widow and Paul’s mother — and $20 million for each of the four children, including Paul.

National Enquirer Heirs Feud

According to Paul, about $186 million from the estate funded a marital trust created by Generoso.  As would be typical of Read more...

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Simpsons Co-Creator Sam Simon Teaches Lesson In Estate Planning

Sam Simon is a co-creator and executive producer of the longest running scripted primetime show ever:  The Simpsons.  Simon, however, clashed with the other Simpsons’ creators and left the show in 1993, after only four seasons.  Co-creator Matt Groening called Simon and “brilliantly funny” but “unpleasant and mentally unbalanced.”  D’Oh!  Sam Simon

In hindsight, Simon should also be described as a brilliant businessman.  He negotiated to keep executive producer credits for the show and a share of The Simpson’s profits each year, including the highly-lucrative home media distribution.  So despite having left the show 20 years ago, Simon is still listed as an executive producer on each episode.  And his profits keep rolling in, year after year.

Interestingly, Simon appears embarrassed by how much money he still receives — tens of millions of dollars each year, as he’s revealed in media interviews.  He’s said it’s far more money than he could ever need.  Because Simon is divorced, and has no children (although he is engaged), Simon says his family members are already Read more...

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James Gandolfini’s Estate Planning Mess

James Gandolfini, who won three Emmy awards portraying mob-boss Tony Soprano for eight years on HBO’s The Sopranos, died on June 19th.  That day, he was touring Rome with his 13-year old son, Michael, when he suffered the sudden and fatal heart attack.  James Gandolfini's Estate

Gandolfini had parlayed his acting success into a reported net worth of $70 million.  Last December, he had the foresight to sign a new Last Will and Testament.  Gandolfini also had created at least one trust — and perhaps more — as referenced in his will.  While it would appear at first blush that Gandolfini did the proper estate planning, the recent revelation of his will (which you can read here) shows otherwise.

To put it bluntly, James Gandolfini’s estate is a mess.  Gandolfini failed to do the proper tax planning that would have enabled his estate to avoid — or at least reduce and delay — paying estate taxes.  As reported by the New York Daily News, Gandolfini’s planning failure subjects 80% of Read more...

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