03 Dec Paul Walker’s Fast and Furious Estate Planning or lack thereof
Paul Walker’s Fast and Furious Estate Planning or lack thereof
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
December 3, 2013
Sadly, actor, Paul Walker, known for his role in the fast and furious movie franchise, passed away a few days ago. Ironically, he was driving a very fast Porsche, lost control and hit a tree. There was a passenger in the vehicle that was also killed. Our condolences go out to the families of both Paul Walker and his unidentified passenger. The story on CNN is found here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/us/walker-death-questions/index.html?hpt=hp_t1.
This post focuses on the estate planning implications of Paul Walker. To my knowledge, Paul was survived by his father and a 15-year-old daughter. While it is not public record at the moment, I wonder if he had executed his estate planning documents: Last Will and Testament, Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts and business entities for Probate avoidance, tax planning, Asset Protection and control given his wealth, power of attorney, health care surrogate and living will (a/k/a “Advanced Care Directives“).
Assuming Paul was a Florida resident, which he is not, his estate will pass probably entirely to his daughter without proper planning. Because she is a minor someone will have to be appointed as her guardian until she turns 18, probably her mother if she is fit. If she is unfit, and if Paul failed to plan ahead in his estate planning documents, the decision who to appoint will be out of his hands. The same goes for guardian of all of the property that his daughter will inherit from his estate. That guardian may a person with whom he would not feel comfortable but it is also out of his control. Unfortunately, when his daughter reaches age 18, she will have access to what appears to be a large amount of wealth. Hopefully she is not financially irresponsible. Hopefully she is responsible in general so as to avoid personal creditors because her creditors will pursue her inheritance as it is unprotected. Meanwhile, his failure to plan ahead may result in probate proceedings, which are sometimes known as “estate administration”, which you will probably be hearing about the news in the coming weeks and months. This will reveal how not private probate proceedings are.
On the other hand, if Paul engaged in estate planning prior to his death, he would be able to protect and preserve his wealth for generations. Planning ahead would have enabled his estate to avoid probate in large part or entirely. He would have been able to appoint a guardian of his daughter if the mother is unfit or unwilling to serve, as well as a guardian of any money that his daughter would inherit from his estate. You could choose to give his surviving parents property upon his death as well as his child and anyone else or anything else that he wishes. His estate likely would include revocable and your irrevocable trusts for probate avoidance, asset protection, tax planning and control. As mentioned above, these trusts would have enabled to have control over the distribution of his wealth for generations to come. These trusts may have been funded with money, life insurance and other property, which can include all tangible intangible rights in assets. Relevant to his passion as a professional race car driver and his claim to fame in the Fast and the Furious movie franchise, such assets may include exotic cars. They also may include various business interests.
There is no question that Paul Walker’s death is extremely tragic, unfortunate and sad. Hopefully he planned for his family’s future well and in advance so as to avoid subjecting his family to necessary additional problems and grief.