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Late actor's estate utilized an irrevocable land trust

Although readers may have reservations about the permanency of irrevocable trusts, a recent story illustrates the benefit that this choice can provide.

The context is one of tragedy: Robin Williams’ estate. Although the beloved Hollywood actor’s passing may have been the result of suicide, his surviving loved ones can at least take comfort in knowing that his estate was in order. The careful planning, reflected in two trusts, shows that Williams had given thought to providing for the future of his surviving children.

With an estate as large as Williams’ -- the equity is estimated at around $25 million -- proactive and sophisticated planning was a necessity. One of the instruments is a real estate holding trust. As with other types of trusts, that instrument contains a trust agreement, a beneficiary and a trustee.

As with other trusts, there can be flexibility in the terms of the land trust agreement. However, if the land trust is an irrevocable trust arrangement, it means that a trustee holds the recorded title to the real estate. However, the beneficiary enjoys the rights and benefits of the land. Once created, it can be difficult to modify an irrevocable trust, which is why it is important to consult with an attorney that focuses on estate planning. 

Not every individual may have $25 million in equity. However, estate planning is a recommended part of any financial plan. As an individual plans for retirement and thinks about assets that might pass to heirs, an attorney can help provide the legal context for those intentions. An estate plan can also minimize both family tensions and estate tax liability.

Source: Crainswealth, “How Robin Williams' estate plan aimed to protect his family,” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Aug. 14, 2014


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