A few weeks back, both the entertainment world and movie fans across the globe were shocked to learn that actor Robin Williams had passed away. Regarded as both a comedic genius and highly accomplished dramatic actor, Williams left behind a wife, his third to whom he was married for three years, and three children, ranging in age from 22 to 34, from his prior marriages.
In the aftermath of his passing, questions naturally arose as to whether Williams, whose films grossed an estimated $6 billion, had any sort of estate plan in place prior to his passing.
Interestingly enough, multiple news outlets have reported that both public records and documents leaked during Williams’ divorce from his second wife in 2009 reveal that he did indeed have the necessary instruments in place to manage his considerable estate.
Among the more notable of these instruments was a trust named “Domus Dulcis Domus Holding Trust,” which served as a real estate holding trust for Williams’ various properties, including an oceanfront home in Tiburon, California, and a 653-acre estate in Napa Valley, California, both of which are estimated to be worth close to $25 million.
For those unfamiliar with real estate holding trusts, they can achieve significant tax savings when made irrevocable and executed in the appropriate way.
Another notable aspect of Williams’ estate plan was the creation of a trust for the benefit of his three children. According to the aforementioned leaked divorce documents, the trust called for an unknown amount of money to be divided equally among the three children, and given to them in installments –when they reached the ages of 21, 25 and 30.
It is worth noting, however, that since the trust terms called for the money to be transferred regardless of whether Williams was alive, it may have been more a product of divorce than estate planning.
Regardless, these two legal instruments show that Williams, an Oscar winner, Golden Globe winner and Emmy winner, understood and appreciated the value of trusts, which can not only provide considerable tax savings, but also privacy and the ability to avoid probate court altogether.
Source: Crain’s Wealth, “How Robin Williams’ estate plan aimed to protect his family,” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Aug. 14, 2014