Is being left out of a parent’s Will necessarily a bad thing?

Most headlines surrounding celebrities are filled with drama and often possible misrepresentations. So, it was not likely a surprise to read that the late actor, Burt Reynolds, reportedly left his son, Quinton, out of his Will when he did his estate planning. That statement, coupled with the revelation that he reportedly named his niece as the executor of his will and as trustee of the trust into which the “star put his possessions”, may lead many to jump to that conclusion.

But there are many reasons why a parent might leave a child out of their Will. One of them, which may be the case at hand, is when they provide for the child during their lifetime and/or through a trust instead of a Will. The Reynolds Will reportedly states “I intentionally omitted him [Quinton] from this, my last will and testament, as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my declaration of trust”.

One reason people may choose to establish a living trust is to avoid probate and the costs, delays, and lack of privacy associated with transferring property through a Will instead of a trust.

If someone has most of what would be their probate assets transferred to a trust during their lifetime, there may be little or no property left to have transferred to beneficiaries by probating the Will upon their death, but a Will is still necessary. This kind of Will is often referred to as a “pour-Will, meant mostly to transfer property that wasn’t included in the assets placed in the living trust.

The beauty of the living trust, especially for celebrities, is that the details are private whereas a Will becomes a matter of public record when offered to probate upon death. So, there’s no way of knowing the details of the trust assets and who received what portion, as the speculation around Reynold’s estate illustrates.

If you need assistance with an initial estate plan or would like to modify an existing one, the estate planning experts at Biddle Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in San Matteo and Belmont, California, we represent clients throughout California including San Mateo, Burlingame, Foster City, San Carlos, Redwood City, and Belmont.