Paul Walker's Will, Trust Offer Estate-Planning Lessons

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on February 11, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Although Paul Walker was anything but ordinary, his will and trust can provide estate planning lessons for everyone.

Walker's will revealed interesting information about him and gives insight into what one should consider when drafting wills and trusts.

Here are seven estate planning lessons to learn from the late-actor's will.

1. Consider revocable living trusts. Walker had a revocable living trust that named his daughter as sole beneficiary. Revocable living trusts are formed while the trust creator is alive and can be modified or revoked during his lifetime. It may also help avoid probate in the future.

2. Update your will to include big life changes. Walker's will was last updated in 2001 -- more than ten years before his untimely passing. Because unmarried partners won't automatically receive assets from your estate, Walker's girlfriend of seven years may not get anything from his estate because she wasn't a named beneficiary.

3. Lessen federal estate tax liability. According to Walker's will, his assets totaled about $25 million. Based on that amount, he'd have to pay a federal estate tax of 35 percent because his assets were more than $5.34 million, according to Bankrate. However, he could have given tax-free gifts or donated to charitable trusts in hopes of lessening his federal estate tax liability.

4. Assign more than one trustee. Walker was the only trustee of his revocable trust and that could be a problem. Since every trust must have at least one trustee, it's a good idea to name a successor trustee in your will in case the original trustee passes away.

5. Name your personal representatives. In his will, Walker named his father as the personal representative and executor of his estate. A personal representative can initiate legal actions on behalf of the estate that are in the best interests of the deceased's intentions. So be sure to name a very trustworthy person as your personal representative.

6. Appointing a guardian for your children. In the event that the surviving parent is unable to take custody, having an appointed guardian will make it easier for surviving children. Walker named his mother as his daughter's guardian, but this doesn't mean that his daughter's biological mother will lose custody unless she agrees or the court deems her unfit.

7. Don't let your beneficiaries be responsible for your taxes. Walker's will states that all estate and inheritance taxes should be paid out of the residue of his estate and none of his beneficiaries will be responsible for those payments.

While Walker's will provides several valuable lessons for end-of-life planning, a local estate planning attorney can give you pointers on your state's probate laws and the best way to manage your assets.

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