By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
August 23, 2018
Who Will Help Bourdain’s 11-Year-Old Daughter Manage His $1.2 Million Estate?
61-year-old Anthony Bourdain wasn’t just a charismatic celebrity traveler, chef, and author. He was also a father.
The beloved travel-show host died earlier this summer, after apparently committing suicide in his hotel room in France. At his time of death, Bourdain was worth $1.2 million.
According to recently filed court papers, Bourdain named his wife, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, as the executor of his estate. Even though the two had separated, they reportedly remained on friendly terms.
In Bourdain’s will, he asks that his possessions and frequent flier miles be distributed in a way she believes he would have wanted. However, most of his $1.2-million estate was left to his daughter, Ariane.
Because Ariane is a minor, the situation is a little more complicated than it would be if Bourdain left his estate to an adult. When an adult inherits an estate, he or she generally simply receives the assets after probate. However, although minors may be named as beneficiaries, they cannot legally own property until they become adults.
So, what happens when a minor child inherits an entire estate? The answer depends on the state and type of property.
In New York, where Bourdain lived, state inheritance law prohibits a minor from directly inheriting money and property. If no arrangements have been made to manage the property for the minor, the court typically appoints a guardian to manage it until the child comes of age.
This is the case with Bourdain’s estate: a New York court will assign a guardian for Ariane.
What Happens in Florida When a Minor Child Inherits an Estate
Like New York, Florida courts may appoint a guardian to represent and protect a child’s interests when he or she inherits property if no custodial account or trust was established to manage the assets.
The guardian will manage the property and money for the benefit of the child until he or she turns 18. The guardian is typically required to report to the court to demonstrate that the assets are being manage properly.
The problem with this arrangement is that the deceased might not get a say in who the court appoints to act as a guardian for their minor child.
Florida courts make an effort to choose an appropriate guardian, but decisions are generally made by a judge who has never met you or your child. In some cases, a court may appoint a guardian who is unfit or does not share your values.
That’s why we urge parents to ensure their estate planning documents clearly name a guardian they wish to oversee their child’s interests. You may designate a personal guardian responsible for raising and protecting the child’s well-being, in addition to a “property guardian” responsible for managing your child’s inheritance.
Alternatively, you could set up a trust for your child’s inheritance and name a trustee to oversee the trust until they come of age.
Talk to your estate planning attorney to make sure your estate planning documents include a guardian or trustee you know and trust.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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