Paul Walker was the star of multiple Hollywood blockbusters including the Fast & Furious franchise. Tragically, he died at the age of 40 in a high-speed car accident on November 30, 2013. While Walker’s death was a terrible loss, it can highlight some important estate planning points.
1.) Trust a trust. Paul Walker left all of his assets to a revocable living trust he had created. This can be a great estate planning tool for many people. With a trust in place, the probate process can be much easier and quicker.
In addition to easing the probate process, a trust allows you to retain more control. For example, if you are leaving your assets to your child, you may not want your child to get a large sum of money the moment he or she turns 18. With a trust, you can have that money doled out over time.
2.) Fully fund your trust. Unfortunately, Paul Walker didn’t fully fund his trust while he was still alive. What that means is that he didn’t transfer all of his assets into the trust during his lifetime. If you fully fund your trust, there will be nothing left to pass through the will, meaning probate is completely unnecessary.
3.) Always name a guardian. If you have children, you really should name a guardian for them in your will. Paul Walker named his mother as his 15-year-old daughter’s guardian. You can name a guardian that is not the legal parent; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean the guardian you name will get custody. Most states favor the parent, but if that parent is unfit or agrees to it, custody may be passed to someone else.
4.) Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Many people, especially young people, don’t have a will or any type of estate plan. They always put it off for tomorrow or when they’re older. Paul Walker signed his will in August of 2001 when he was just 28 years old.
5.) Keep your estate planning documents updated. As mentioned above, Paul Walker signed his will when he was 28. At the time, he wasn’t a huge movie star; this was the same year the first Fast & Furious movie came out. He did not update his will, trust, or other estate documents in the more than 12 years between that time and his death. Anyone, big movie star or not, will face numerous changes in 12 years. You may get divorced, have a child, start a business, or any number of other things. Any changes need to be accounted for in your estate plan.