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Some things Paul Walker did right in his estate plan

Fans of the "Fast and Furious" movie franchise were undoubtedly saddened by the unexpected death of actor Paul Walker. The star is survived by his teenage daughter and his mother and father. Walker reportedly owned assets totaling about $25 million, and his plan to preserve those assets is worth considering.

Overall, Walker's estate seems to have been planned to good effect. His 15-year-old daughter is the sole beneficiary of the living revocable trust that Walker created. He also took the important step of saying in his will that all of his assets should be transferred to the trust.

New Jersey residents should keep in mind that a probate court will consider the contents of a will, but assets in a trust are private. Effectively, when Walker created what estate planners refer to as a "pour-over" will, which pours the estate assets into a trust, he simplified the probate process and kept the family finances a private matter.

Another thing to consider is that the trust's sole beneficiary is Walker's minor child. Since the trust is private, we're unable to say exactly how the funds will be distributed, but with minor children as beneficiaries, it is generally a good idea to distribute funds in installments rather than at once. You want to be sure that the beneficiaries aren't too young to handle the money responsibly.

According to an article in Forbes, Walker signed his will 12 years ago, and it appears that he didn't update the document in that time. For more on the importance of coordinating and updating estate planning documents, please see our previous post, "Are your beneficiary designations and your will coordinated?

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

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