by Estate Planning Attorney Nydia Menendez
In late 2013, while on Thanksgiving break during filming for his upcoming movie, Furious 7, Paul Walker died in a tragic car accident. Ironically, many fans remember him by one of his famous quotes: “If one day the speed kills me, don’t cry. Because I was smiling.” Walker was only 40 years of age and was survived by his parents and his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow.
Even though young at the time of his passing, Paul Walker understood the importance of managing his Estate in the event something happened to him. His Estate Plan was Trust-based, with a revocable living Trust as its backbone. His Will was one commonly referred to as a pour-over Will, which is a relatively short and simple document. Rather than distributing his property to one or more beneficiaries, the Will “poured over” the assets into the hands of the Trustee named in his Revocable Living Trust. His daughter Meadow was named the sole beneficiary, Walker’s Dad was the personal representative and presumably also the Trustee, or the manager of the Trust, and Walker’s mother, rather than Meadow’s biological mother, was designated as her Guardian.
Since Walker left all his assets to a Trust, the Probate process was much simpler and less of a nightmare than it could have been. Ideally, the Trust would have been designed to distribute Walker’s millions in a controlled fashion, over time – not all at once when Meadow turns 18. Trusts done by competent Estate Planning attorneys typically stretch out distributions for young adults.
Sadly, a downfall of Walker’s Trust was that he failed to fully fund it in his lifetime. Funding a Trust means that assets are transferred into the name of the Trust, and the Probate court process can be completely avoided.
Also, while Walker gets credit for planning ahead, he did fail to update his Estate Planning documents before his passing, which was more than 12 years later. Several changes happen during life. In Paul Walker’s case, his net worth grew considerably over that time, which created tax issues. His Estate valued at twenty-five million dollars was well over the federal Estate tax threshold. With proper planning, Walker could have taken advantage a number of tax-minimizing strategies, but because he did not, the tax consequences fell on his daughter.
Paul Walker will always be remembered for his action-packed movies. His death was no less dramatic. Fortunately, due to thoughtful planning, his Estate—though not perfect—did not include the drama that often occurs when a person passes on.
How Can You Get Started with Your Estate Plan?
If you want to learn more about how to plan for your future to make sure you remain in control of your decisions while leaving a lasting legacy for your family, then we invite you to call our office at (954) 963-7220 to speak with a member of the Menéndez Law Firm. You may also want to watch the video series on our YouTube channel where we talk about Estate Planning in detail. Or if you would like to join us for the next live Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning webinar on Zoom you can register at no charge on our website www.menendezlawfirm.com
Estate Planning Attorney
Menéndez Law Firm
2699 Stirling Road, Suite B200
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
Tel.: (954) 963-7220
Fax: (954) 963-7232