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Fast, Furious, and Guardianship Settlement

As mentioned previously, Paul Walker designated his mother as the guardian of his minor daughter, Meadow Rain, even though Rebecca Soteros, Meadow’s mother, was still alive.  His mother filed probate documents asking to be named guardian.  According to Bela Lugosi Jr, attorney for Mrs. Walker, the parties recently agreed to allow Meadow to live with Soteros once Soteros completes a stint in alcohol rehab.

Several points:

1.  This would have been a difficult fight for Mrs. Walker to win because the birth parent is presumed to get sole custody of a child regardless of provisions in the deceased’s will.

2.  Mrs. Walker probably leveraged the will provision to ensure that Soteros sought treatment before gaining sole custody of Meadow, although she might have been tempted to fight for custody by the trust funds available to her.

3.  Who knew that Bela Lugosi (Jr.) was practicing law?  I thought Bauhaus said “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

Fast, Furious, and Thriller

As noted earlier, when Paul Walker’s executor filed his will with the probate court, he estimated his future income at $8 million and this total estate at $25 million.  Also, as noted last Fall, the Executors of Michael Jackson’s estate are battling the IRS over the value of his estate, which they declared to be only $7 million but the IRS contends is worth more than $1 billion.  The discrepancy stems largely over the value of MJ’s likeness for commercial purposes (t shirts, merchandise) and the value of his musical catalog which also includes Beatles songs.  His estate valued them at $2,100 and $0 respectively.  The IRS valued them at a combined $900 million.

Several points:

1.  If Paul Walker will earn $8 million post-mortem, a $7 million valuation for Jackson’s estate is ludicrous.

2.  The King of Pop grossed $160 million in 2013, more than any other celebrity belying the low valuation of his music if not his likeness.

3.  I doubt that the image of a deceased entertainer with MJ’s murky past is worth $450 million, but it is worth more than $2,100.

4.  It might seem like the IRS “won’t stop ’til it gets enough” and the issues are “black or white,” but the estate’s stated values are “bad” if not “dangerous” and could make his family “scream” if they do not “beat it.”

Fast, Furious, and Admitted to Probate

The will of “Fast and Furious” star, Paul Walker, was admitted to probate last week.  The 2001 document has garnered some media attention because it appoints his father as executor of his $25 million estate which he left to a trust and designates his mother as guardian of his daughter, Meadow Rain, even though her mother survived her.   His estate consists of $10 million of investments, a house with $8.5 million equity, and projected $8 million residuals from his movies.

Several points:

1.  In split household situations, the biological parent will almost always be the sole guardian of a minor child even if the will designates someone else.

2.  In split household situations, I always designate a guardian for the minor children, although I condition it on the other parent being unable  to provide a stable home environment.

3.  Mr. Walker could have avoided the probate process on his investments by adding a transfer on death (TOD) designation to his trust.

4.  Meadow Rain?  In the annals of names of celebrity children it is probably better than Apple Martin and Blue Ivy Carter, and definitely better than Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof, Fifi Trixibelle Geldof, Moon Unit Zappa, and Diva Muffin Zappa but falls short of Tallulah Willis and Scout Willis.

 

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All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.