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What can we learn from Robin Williams' estate planning?

The loss of comedian Robin Williams from this world was indeed a grave one. Nevertheless, it seems that there is at least one positive side to his story, which involves the estate plan he left for his heirs. Indeed, it appears that Williams tied up his loose ends well when it comes to the solid estate plan he created.

It is rare that a New York resident will hear about the details of a particular person's estate plan unless the estate plan belongs to a close relative. However, celebrities live such public lives that when they pass away, it is not uncommon for the intricacies of their estate plan to become public knowledge. In such cases, it can be to our advantage to learn from the successes and mistakes of the world's rich and famous elite.

In the case of Robin Williams, it appears that he made use of a revocable trust for the biggest share of his estate planning. This may help his heirs avoid unnecessary tax liabilities and other complications. One advantage of Williams' trust, for example, is that fact that trusts confidential. Wills, on the other hand, are public because they must go through the probate process in public court.

Revocable trusts allow individuals to plan the dispensation of their estates without the process being publicly disclosed. Trusts also allow for heirs to completely bypass the probate process, which can be arduous and costly in New York and other areas of the country.

Although a revocable trusts can be seen as costly in terms of up-front fees, in many cases, they can save family members and heirs a great deal more money than its initial costs in the long run. Indeed, heirs who receive money through a trust can avoid the numerous fees associated with probate and other court costs. In many cases, they can also avoid the threat of becoming embroiled in a public will contestation scandal and other ugly disagreements.

Source: DailyFinance, "Robin Williams' Estate Plan Spares His Heirs a Lot of Drama" Dan Caplinger, Aug. 14, 2014

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