Category Archives: Examples of Good Planning

Joan Rivers Teaches Lesson About Termination Of Life Support

“I ain’t afraid of death.”  Joan Rivers once told Time Magazine, “I’m in show business.  I died a million times.”  Joan Rivers

Aging.  Dying.  Death.  Concepts no one likes to think about, much less talk about.  Of the many fatal tragedies the celebrity world has suffered lately — Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, and Casey Kasem, to name a few — perhaps none shook people to the core as much as the passing of Joan Rivers.

Even at 81 years old, her death seemed to take everyone off-guard. Except maybe Joan Rivers herself.  While on stage for the final time, she told the audience how she could die at any minute.  And a few weeks ago, she posted on her Twitter account:

Two Big Brother contestants have had grandparents die this season. I’m a little upset… Cooper [her grandson] just submitted an audition tape.

Joan Rivers Dies At Age 81 – A Look At Her Life

So why was Joan Rivers’ death so shocking?  Maybe it was her zest, vibrancy, and attitude Read more...

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What’s In Store For Robin Williams’ Estate and Family?

The initial shock of Robin Williams’ tragic death, apparently from hanging himself, is giving way to reflections of his memory and legacy. Another question many people are asking is what happens next for his family. He was survived by his third wife, Susan Schneider, to whom he was married for three years, and three adult children from his prior two marriages, whose ages range from 22 to 31. There is a realistic fear that Williams’ death left may have left them in financial distress.  Robin Williams Estate

In an interview with Parade Magazine in 2013, Williams lamented how he was required to change his lifestyle because of how much he lost in his two divorces (reportedly, $30 million). He said he returned to TV because of “bills to pay.” Williams also admitted to listing his Napa Valley estate for sale because he could no longer afford it.

Robin Williams’ publicist recently said that he was not in financial trouble and his comments were not to be taken seriously.  Regardless of whether his publicist Read more...

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Oscar Winners Teach Five Lessons On Estate Planning

The 2014 Oscars are complete.  Trial & Heirs looks back at past Oscar winners like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Heath Ledger, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando.  Their estates illustrate important estate planning lessons that everyone can benefit from — even those who aren’t walking the red carpet at the Oscars.  Oscar Winner: Philip Seymour Hoffman Estate

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman Estate Planning Lesson:  You Can Be Creative With Your Will or Trust

There were many mistakes and pitfalls with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate (including no estate tax planning and his failure to use a revocable living trust, as we discuss in our article).  But, Hoffman — whose portrayal of Capote earned him the Best Actor Oscar in 2006 — didn’t do everything wrong.

He gets credit for a key component of estate planning that many people overlook: creativity.  Estate planning is not meant to be “fill in the blank” or “one-size fits all.”  You can use your will or trust to pass along your goals, values and moral beliefs.  Most people think wills and trusts Read more...

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Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate

Paul William Walker IPaul Walker EstateV was the star of the Fast & Furious movies, until his unfortunate — and ironic — death in a high-speed car accident on November 30, 2013.  The car, in which Walker was a passenger, was found to have been doing at least 100 mph.  Walker was 40 years old when he died, survived by his parents and his 15-year old daughter, Meadow Rain Walker.

Recently, Paul Walker’s father filed to open the estate, including Walker’s Last Will and Testament, which you can read here: Read Paul Walker’s Will.  It sheds some interesting information about the Paul Walker Estate and highlights some valuable estate planning lessons.

First, the probate filing and will reveal that Walker had assets of about 25 million dollars, including 8 million in personal property (which would include cash and investments), $8.5 in expected income, and another $8.5 million in real estate (after subtracting mortgages).

Second, the filing shows that Walker had a revocable living trust, benefiting his daughter as the sole Read more...

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Trial and Heirs Top Tips For The New Year

It’s the beginning of the year, which means that we all have well-intended New Year’s resolutions.  The diet, the exercise regimen, saving money…and finally doing our estate and financial planning.  The celebrity stories in Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! can help motivate you to actually do your planning this year.  Really!

Here are some of our easy-to-use estate planning tips for the new year:

1.  Get your financial affairs organized this year.  Create an “asset” list, including the account numbers, names of financial institutions, and related information for your insurance, stocks, bonds, CDs, securities, bank accounts and other investments.

2.  Store your asset list and your estate planning documents in a fireproof box, safe, or safety deposit box.  Remember to make sure that your loved ones can find and access these documents!  We have an Estate Planning Organizer to help you with this.  Just email us at contact@trialandheirs.com if you want to learn more.

3.  Review and update your estate planning documents and your financial plan with your Read more...

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Simpsons Co-Creator Sam Simon Teaches Lesson In Estate Planning

Sam Simon is a co-creator and executive producer of the longest running scripted primetime show ever:  The Simpsons.  Simon, however, clashed with the other Simpsons’ creators and left the show in 1993, after only four seasons.  Co-creator Matt Groening called Simon and “brilliantly funny” but “unpleasant and mentally unbalanced.”  D’Oh!  Sam Simon

In hindsight, Simon should also be described as a brilliant businessman.  He negotiated to keep executive producer credits for the show and a share of The Simpson’s profits each year, including the highly-lucrative home media distribution.  So despite having left the show 20 years ago, Simon is still listed as an executive producer on each episode.  And his profits keep rolling in, year after year.

Interestingly, Simon appears embarrassed by how much money he still receives — tens of millions of dollars each year, as he’s revealed in media interviews.  He’s said it’s far more money than he could ever need.  Because Simon is divorced, and has no children (although he is engaged), Simon says his family members are already Read more...

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Gore-Tex Heiress’ Adoption Of Ex-Husband Fails To Score More Stock

Anyone who likes to go hiking, biking or camping probably knows what Gore-Tex is.  The breathable, waterproof fabric made W.L. Gore and Associates into a huge success. The privately-held company hit #134 in Forbes’ most recent list of America’s largest private companies, with an estimated $3 billion in annual revenue.  Gore-Tex

Founder Bill Gore passed away in 1986 and his widow, Genevieve Gore, died on January 20, 2005.  The couple, way back in 1972, finalized a trust to pass most of their stock in the company onto the children, and ultimately their grandchildren.  They smartly planned ahead, realizing how valuable their Gore-Tex invention could become and how much growth their stock could achieve.  So they funded the trust through a holding company, early on, to minimize estate taxes.

Wanting to treat their heirs equally, the Gores set up five equal shares, for their five children.  They created a supplemental trust so that each of the grandchildren could receive an equal amount of stock as well.

The plan worked very well … Read more...

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Research Study Shows Professionals How To Grow Their Businesses

We’ve had so many financial and legal professionals contact us and ask how they can use our celebrity stories about estate planning to help their businesses.  In addressing this, we came across a fascinating research study that covers this very topic.  

It’s the “Economics of Loyalty” study, by Advisor Impact and sponsored by Vanguard.  It surveyed clients of financial planners to learn what differentiated clients who are merely satisfied from those who are engaged enough to make referrals.  It found that “engaged” clients made an average of 2.3 referrals, while those who were merely “satisfied” referred none.

The study also found another startling conclusion … there is almost no correlation between asking for referrals and receiving them. Rather, most clients made referrals to help their friends, co-workers and families members in need, not the professional.  In other words, to earn referrals and build your business, you have to show clients that you are able to provide a benefit to people they might refer to you.

How do you do this?  Read more...

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Will Estate Taxes Force Al Davis’ Family to Sell The Oakland Raiders?

Al Davis, the long-time principal owner and general manager of the Oakland Raiders, passed away this weekend at age 82. As Mike Ozanian of Forbes recently wrote, estate taxes are a huge concern for NFL football owners, including the Davis family.  Those taxes led to the sale of the St. Louis Rams in 2008 and the Miami Dolphins in the mid-90′s.

For those who pass away this year, the tax tops out at 35% for those with the highest level of assets, like Davis.  Too bad the Davis family wasn’t as lucky as the Steinbrenner family, which avoided the taxes altogether, since 2010 was the one year there were no estate taxes.

The day after Davis passed away, NBC Sports already reported from “a source with knowledge of the situation” that Davis used thorough estate and succession planning to protect his beloved Oakland Raiders from leaving the family.  Reportedly, his widow, Carol, and his son, Mark Davis, will take over control of the team.  The San Francisco Chronicle wrote Read more...

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Steve Jobs Appears To Have Protected His Estate With Living Trusts

Soon after the tragic news broke of the passing of Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and innovator extraordinaire, people began wondering what would become of his fortune.  Forbes recently estimated Jobs’ wealth at $7 billion.  

ABCNews.com recently interviewed Danielle Mayoras on this very topic.  It reported how Jobs, the largest single shareholder of Disney (which of course owns ABC News), has received $242 million in Disney stock dividends alone, since 2006.  How much is his Disney stock worth?  $4.4 billion, for 138 million shares, good for 7.4 percent of the total Disney stock.

As Danielle pointed out in the interview, usually people with that much wealth do the proper estate planning, including using living trusts, charitable bequests, and more.  Not only does this keep their affairs private, it can help minimize estate taxes.  Topping out at 35%, the current estate tax laws — while much lower than in years past — will obviously take a big bite out of Jobs’ family fortune.  That comes out to almost $2.45 billion in taxes, Read more...

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