Paul Walker was a film and television actor loved by countless fans. Perhaps he was best known for his roles in The Fast and the Furious and its many sequels. Walker was on his way home from an event for his Reach Out Worldwide charity (benefitting victims of Typhoon Haiyan) on November 30, 2013, when he was killed in a car accident.
Walker, who was 40 at the time of his death, can teach us a few things about estate planning.
- Revocable Living Trusts are still an important part of an estate plan. Paul Walker had a Revocable Living Trust. Utilizing a trust as the primary estate planning vehicle is often a good idea for management of assets during life and at death. It allows for privacy at death by avoiding the public process of probate. A trust document is not open to prying eyes.
- Funding a trust is critical to achieving many of its benefits, such as privacy. Walker did not fund his trust completely. While a trust is a good idea, the benefits are diluted if it is not funded during life. Walker had about $25 million of assets outside the trust. We know this because those assets will have to be probated. Eventually, they’ll get to the trust because of Walker’s “pourover” will. The expense and publicity of probate could have been avoided if the assets had been in the trust during life.
- Estate Planning is important for the young and old alike. Unfortunately, all too often, young people can and do die. Paul Walker was only 40 years old at his death. At that age, he should have had more than half his life ahead of him. But, life does not always work out the way we expect. Walker was wise in that he had thought ahead and had done an estate plan.
Walker was a well-known film and television star, loved by countless people. He was very active in charity endeavors. And he thought of others by planning his estate.
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555