The recent death of iconic performer Robin Williams devastated fans across the country, not to mention the friends and family closest to him. The loss is substantial, and is just the latest in string of unexpected celebrity deaths that have happened in recent months. From James Gandolfini to Casey Kasem, Paul Walker to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, it seems as though we are reading about a tragic loss far too often.
However, these deaths have been the spark of some important discussions across the country. People are talking about addiction, depression, mental decline and dementia; and we are getting some bittersweet insight into how important it can be to prepare and plan for the future.
Just as the lives of celebrities are widely reported, so too are their deaths and the legacies they leave behind. Often, this includes information on what, if any, estate planning they had in place.
For example, recent reports on Robin Williams’ planning have brought up the importance of establishing and funding trusts for loved ones. In Williams’ case, he reportedly had at least one and possibly two different trusts set up: one held his real estate assets and the other was set up for his children.
Establishing a trust can be effective for a number of different reasons. A trust can set certain restrictions on when money is released and who should be in control of it. A trust can also limit certain tax implications, easing the burden on beneficiaries. It can also be a way to avoid the probate process, thereby keeping sensitive financial information private, which can be a top priority for high-profile or high-earning figures.
People often do not like to think about what will happen to their assets and care should they get very ill or pass away. However, these recent tragic losses illustrate how unexpected a death can be and how crucial it can be to have certain affairs in order.
Source: Forbes, “What’s Next For Robin Williams’ Family And Estate?” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Aug. 12, 2014