Estate Planning Lessons from “Furious 7”

RLTThey wreck a lot of cars in the movie “Furious 7“. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most people. I took my wife to see the latest installment of the action film series – because she has the movie interests of a 14 year old boy. Noel has always been amongst the first in line for movies such as any Rambo, The Expendables, and most of the Fast series. The movie has done fabulously well at the box office even if some like Scott Mendelson at Forbes suggest that the untimely death of one of the main stars, Paul Walker, helped influence those results.

But I am more interested in a related story about the estate planning lessons to be learned from the actor’s death. I suppose lawyers blogging and magazines writing about such things after a celebrity has passed can be thought of as unseemly. But I think that people learn from and are more in tune with the problems celebrities face than if a purely academic article about estate planning mistakes was given to them to read. Folks can relate to stories, particularly about celebrities, often times more readily than to a litany of facts presented before them.

Perhaps the best such discussion that I have read concerning estate planning issues raised by Paul Walker’s passing was written by Danielle and Andy Mayoras in Forbes Magazine. The Mayoras are a husband and wife team of practicing estate planning attorneys whose work is widely read in the industry. The points they make in their article are:

1. Walker’s use of a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) to provide for his daughter is a good start and one that most people would be wise to emulate.

2. At the same time, they point out that the RLT was not fully funded and because of that, there will be major tax implications and loss of privacy faced by the daughter that could have otherwise been avoided.

3. Parents should always name who they want the guardian of their children to be in their estate plan. If they do not, then someone (family member or friend) has to step up and file for guardianship if that time comes.

4. You don’t have to be old to start creating your estate plan. In fact, the earlier you do so the better.

5. All estate planning documents have to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis because things change over time. The law changes, family structure changes, your assets change, etc. Your estate planning documents have to keep pace with these changes.

As the Mayoras point out, these are all valuable lessons to be learned from the circumstances surrounding Walker’s estate. I would add one more observation. I am not sure that Paul Walker wanted all of this information to come out in the public. Surely he knew as his career began to take off that his life as a celebrity would attract a lot of interest. While he had the right pieces in place in his estate plan to shield his privacy, he did not follow through and take advantage of the protection they offer to insure that his privacy was maintained. And while the general public is not likely to garner the same public scrutiny as that of a celebrity such as Walker, proper estate planning can keep your life private if done correctly and followed though on.

So back to the cars. I was really thrilled to a ’72 Plymouth Barracuda early in the movie. I purchased a brand new 1973 Plymouth Barracuda for $3,052.43 back in the day. What ever possessed me to trade in that beautiful blue with white trim, 318 cubic inch, 3 speed muscle car? I sure wish I had it today. Probably would retitle it into the Revocable Living Trust to pass down to my son – but don’t tell him!

Estate planning is an important process that can should be guided by a qualified attorney. We would be delighted to have you make an appointment with our office to learn how we can assist you in preserving your assets and planning for your family’s future. Call us at (301)315-0811 or visit our website at www.tyralawfirm.com.

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Written by The Tyra Law Firm

Our firm offers a number of legal services, including Family Law, Estate Planning,Elder Law/Medicaid Planning, and Personal Injury. In each of our practice areas, we are committed to paying close personal attention to every detail, and providing excellent client service.