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Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney

Hopper's child gets large portion of his estate through a trust

California movie fans mourned the 2010 death of iconic actor Dennis Hopper. Since his passing, however, various issues have clouded the administration of his estate. Hopper was married five times throughout his life and was in the process of divorcing his fifth wife at the time of his death.

After most of the separate parties in the estate dispute recently reached a mutually satisfactory settlement, it appears that Hopper's youngest daughter, age 9, will receive a distribution equal to about 40 percent of his estate. Hopper's three other children, all past the age of majority, will split the remaining 60 percent between them.

The unequally balanced distributions among Hopper's children can be explained by considering the children's ages and what Hopper had already provided to them during their lives. According to an attorney for the Hopper estate, Hopper already supported the adult children throughout their youth, but the youngest child will need more support since she cannot yet care for herself.

This may be a common consideration for parents when deciding what to provide to loved ones in a will. When children are under 18, have not attended post-secondary schooling and presumably are unable to provide for themselves, special financial considerations for education and living expenses must be taken into account.

Other considerations, including naming a trustee for a minor beneficiary, are also important aspects people should consider when crafting an estate plan that can provide for minor children in the unfortunate event that both parents pass away. In Hopper's case, his former wife will be a co-trustee for his young daughter's estate, but will not be able to access the money for her personal use.

Having one's wishes honored after death is important. Using the right legal instrument, whether it is a will or trust, can hold people accountable and ensure that the estate is administered according to the decedent's directives.

Source: ABCNews.com "Dennis Hopper's 9-Year Old To Get 40 Percent of Late Father's Estate," Susanna Kim, Sept. 19, 2012

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My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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