Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Paul Walker, star of the Fast & Furious movies, died in a high-speed car accident this past November. The 40-year-old father’s will highlights some valuable estate planning lessons. Walker’s will reveals he had about $25 million worth of assets and a revocable living trust with his daughter Meadow as the sole beneficiary. Also, Walker’s mother (Meadow’s grandmother) was named guardian and caretaker of his money. Here are five lessons we can draw from his estate planning:
- Use a trust. Walker’s will left all of his assets to a trust that he created, which will simplify the probate process. A trust also means his daughter will receive his money in a controlled fashion instead of all at once.
- Fully fund the trust. Walker could have kept his family’s affairs private, and avoided the probate process completely, if he had fully funded his trust by transferring all of his assets into the name of the trust during his lifetime. Instead, Walker relied on a pour-over will to pass everything along to his trust.
- Name a guardian. Walker had the foresight to name a guardian for his daughter. Even though the law still favors Meadow’s mother, the grandmother could take over guardianship if the mother agrees or is found to be unfit.
- Don’t procrastinate. Walker certainly didn’t plan to die so young. He should be commended for making the effort to prepare a will and trust at age 28.
- Update! Walker died more than 12 years after he signed his will. Too much can change over that span to rely on the same old documents.
See Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Five Estate Planning Lessons from the Paul Walker Estate, Forbes, Feb. 10, 2014.