Many of you probably heard about the recent passing of acting superstar Burt Reynolds. While news stories are peppered with remembrances of his best film roles and his contributions to Hollywood, some reports are shining a light on another aspect of the actor's life: his estate planning.
According to those reports, Reynolds intentionally wrote his 30-year-old son out of his will. Why? Simply put, Reynolds placed his entire $5 million estate into a trust that will provide for his son. There are a number of reasons Reynolds may have done this. First, the late actor was known for having money woes late in life. By placing his estate in a trust, he protected many, if not all, of those assets from creditors. If they had been left to his son through a will, then creditors would have gotten the first stab at claiming those assets to settle any outstanding debt.
A second reason Reynolds may have utilized a trust is because it keeps the contents of an estate private. Wills must pass through probate, which is a public court proceeding. This can leave an estate exposed to curious eyes and those who may be looking for something to gain. A trust's assets, on the other hand, may only be known by a few individuals, including the trustee and the beneficiary of that trust. This can keep the entire passing of an estate private, which is what most people want to happen.
The passing of celebrities like Burt Reynolds can shine a light on the importance of adequate and appropriate estate planning. But you don't have to be a celebrity to benefit from this process. On the contrary, even those with minimal assets can find value in dictating how they will be passed on upon death. If you'd like to learn more about what estate planning can do for you, please consult with an attorney you trust.