Thursday, August 14, 2014
Millions of Americans are mourning the sudden death of Robin Williams—a world-class comedic genius who made millions in order to care for his children. Despite his efforts, Williams’ estate planning abilities may not have matched his gift to entertain.
Experts say that it is possible Williams may not have left a will, although this may not have been a bad thing. “It’s very likely he used a revocable trust. A lot of our California clients take that approach,” explained Daniel Rubin, a partner at Moses & Singer. Because probate tends to be a lengthy process in California, wealthy people often opt to create a revocable living trust instead of a will. They make themselves the trustee, and in the trust documents indicate how they want to allocate their assets. Upon their death, the assets are distributed without public review.
Williams did leave money in a trust for his three children, yet the trusts could have been structured more effectively. Reports indicated the trust assets were to be distributed to Williams’ children in three increments: at age 21, 25, and 30. However, those may not be the best times for children to receive large sums of money. The more modern way of structuring a trust is to give children responsibility for appointing the trustee at a certain age.
See Kelley Holland, Robin Williams’ Estate Plan: Good, But Not Great, CNBC, Aug. 12, 2014.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.