Saturday the world lost Paul Walker, a famous movie star best known for his roles in the Fast & Furious franchise. Reports are still surfacing with details about the car accident that killed him, but it is certainly very tragic regardless of how it happened.
Walker was 40 years old and is survived by his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow. His death serves as a stark reminder to all of us that it is never too soon to establish an estate plan. There will certainly be complex issues that the estate will have to deal with related to the size of his estate, which is probably substantial given the popularity of his films. But perhaps the most important issues that the estate will be dealing with are issues that would be relevant to most people, regardless of individual net worth.
If someone in Walker’s position did not have a proper estate plan, the courts would become involved to settle the issue of who will be the minor child’s guardian for the next few years, as well as who will serve as court-appointed conservator over the funds that she will inherit as heir. Worse still is the fact that the child will probably gain full unfettered access to the funds immediately upon reaching age 18. How many people are responsible at that age to properly manage such a large sum of money?
A properly drafted estate plan would consider what age the child would gain access to the inheritance, while providing specific terms allowing the child funds at earlier times for specific purposes, such as obtaining a college education. A trusted advisor could be appointed as trustee over the funds eliminating the need for costly court proceedings, while imposing a fiduciary duty to preserve and invest the funds for the child’s best interest.
Have you met with an attorney to discuss your estate plan? What are you waiting for?