No Will Hunting – Robin Williams Used a Living Trust
Robin Williams made millions during his career and took steps to protect his wealth so it could be passed down to his three children. Did he just have a simple will based plan? No. Instead, reports indicate that Mr. Williams likely had a plan centered around a revocable living trust.
Why would Williams, and other individuals, opt not to have a just a will based plan? First, the probate process can be very complicated and time consuming because it requires the estate be administered through the court system. Think about your experiences that involve the courts or the government in any way. Was it efficient? In our experience, we find it is more complicated and time consuming to have government involvement than having the estate administered privately by people that you hand pick. Revocable Living Trusts combined with properly titled assets can avoid the probate process and be highly customized to fit your specific situation. Instead of playing by the courts rules you create your own set of instructions on how your assets are to be used during your lifetime (e.g. if you are mentally disabled then you pick who can manage your assets and how the assets can be used).
Another major benefit of setting up a living trust, as opposed to a traditional will, is the flexibility it affords you in how your assets are distributed. For example, news reports have found that Mr. Williams’ trust assets were structured so they would not be distributed to his children all at once, according to CNBC.com.
Instead, his children would receive the assets in three increments: at ages 21, 25, and 30. Setting up his trust in this manner helps reduce the risk of one of his children misusing those assets during the difficult grieving soon after a loved one passes away. Even if one of the children makes a poor financial decision at age 21, they won’t completely burn through their inheritance. Instead, they’ll have time to learn from their mistakes and (hopefully) make better decisions at ages 25 and/or 30. Another option that is available that we find people are not aware of is to keep assets in protective lifetime trusts for your beneficiaries. This strategy gives your beneficiaries a level of protection against the creditors and predators of the world while still allowing the trust funds to be used for their needs. We would hate to see assets wasted in a terrible lawsuit or bad divorce situation.
These are only a few of the many advantages of using a revocable trust based plan. Williams definitely thought about his estate plan and his family ahead of time. His planning helped make a terrible and tragic situation easier for his loved ones. If you would like additional information about how to set up a living trust for your estate, and learn more about the advantages of trust based planning, register for our next Truth About Estate Planning orientation meeting