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Trusts can play important role when it comes to estate planning

It appears that the recently deceased movie star, Paul Walker, did many things right when it came to distribution of his millions of dollars in assets. Perhaps most importantly, it appears he at least understood that having a will is only a small portion of what is required when it comes to estate planning.

Walker set up a revocable living trust for his daughter as sole beneficiary. We do not know what assets were actually placed into the trust. Trusts differ from wills as these are private documents that most of us will be unable to see. Trusts can be set up so that the money is paid out in a controlled fashion.

The benefit of placing the assets in a trust in this manner the probate process will be much less burdensome.   These trusts can be fully funded and could avoid the process of probate altogether.  In Mr. Walker's case he set-up what is called a pour-over will which passed the assets along to a trust.  This likely will result in more public scrutiny had he fully funded the trust to begin with instead of relying upon the will to do so.

While Walker did do many things right, he did make a few mistakes along the way as well.  His will was more than 12-years-old when he signed it and there can be many changes in one's situation over such a period of time.  

It's extremely important to revisit one's estate planning now and then.  It's also important to understand that a resident in Florida may have different considerations to make than Mr. Walker did.  Every state has differing sets of laws when it comes to matters dealing with estate planning and probate avoidance.  That's why it's important for such residents living in Florida to speak to an estate planning attorney licensed in our state.


Source: Forbes, "Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Feb. 10, 2014

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