Not many would dispute the claim that Robin Williams was a comic genius, but few predicted he would show an affinity for estate planning. Based on reports by various media outlets, it appears the award winning actor took steps to help better ensure his loved ones would be protected in the event of his passing. If the reports are supported, his actions should help ensure the financial stability of his family.
According to the reports, Mr. Williams used a series of trusts to accomplish his estate planning goals. Trusts are legal tools that can be used in a variety of ways and can offer a number of benefits. In this case, Crain’s Wealth, a leading provider in investment strategies, notes that Williams used at least two trusts. One was set up to own and manage his real estate holdings and a second to provide financial support to his children.
Trusts: the basics
Essentially, a trust transfers the legal ownership of funds or assets to another person, referred to as the trustee. This individual or institution is required to manage the trust for the benefit of another person or persons. Those who benefit from the trust are called the beneficiaries. This relationship between the trustee and beneficiaries creates a fiduciary duty, making the trustee legally accountable to the beneficiaries for the management of these assets.
Trusts: not just for the rich and famous
Although the use of trusts is often tied to the likes of Robin Williams, these legal instruments can be a beneficial addition in a variety of circumstances. A recent article by CNN Money noted that families with business interests or investments in real estate are wise to include trusts in their estate plans. Trusts also allow the creator to have some level of control over how the asset is distributed. As a result, a trust can be beneficial if an individual wishes to have assets distributed in parts instead of one lump sum.
Use of a trust also increases one’s privacy. Wills become public record, but unless the details of the trust are leaked, the contents and workings of the trust generally remain private. This legal tool can also be used to maximize estate tax savings.
These are just a few of the benefits that can be offered by a trust. There are various types of trusts available, and it is important to choose wisely to make sure your needs are met. Those who are considering using trusts to help meet their estate planning needs are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced wills and trusts attorney. This legal professional will discuss your goals and help to better ensure a plan is tailor made to meet your wishes.