Paul Walker, star of the popular movie franchise The Fast and The Furiousdied suddenly last week. In what seems to be a sad twist of fate, he died in a tragic car accident. He was only 40 years old.

Paul Walker’s Death and Estate Planning

When someone we know, or feel like we know, dies in the prime of their life, we can’t help but relate. He was in excellent health, at the top of his professional career, and conceivably had years and years left to live. Most of us feel like we also have years and years, but as this story demonstrates, we all need to be prepared.

It’s too early to know if Mr. Walker was prepared by having an estate plan in place, but if statistics are any indication, he probably did not. This is particularly sad because he had a minor daughter, Meadow Walker, in his care. Not only was he supporting her financially, but she had moved to California to live with him.

By all accounts, Paul was a loving and devoted father. It was said that he even accepted or rejected movie roles based on his daughter’s schedule. His desire to stay close so he could raise her full-time was strong.

Paul was like most parents that way. But, I wonder if he was like most parents who thought he had plenty of time to do his estate planning.

Without a plan in place, Meadow will most likely have to move back with her mother, who lives in another state. She will also likely inherit his sizable estate at age 18 outright and unrestricted.

If this devoted father had put a will or trust in place, he probably would have named someone responsible to administer the estate until Meadow matured enough to be able to make responsible decisions. History has shown that handing that much money to a child can be a disaster. Instead of using the money for college or investing the money so that it will be available for her during her whole lifetime; grieving, the not-quite-developed brain of an 18-year-old will most likely squander it on luxury cars, vacations….or worse.

And, just because you don’t have the amounts of money that Paul Walker had, don’t think that this isn’t a problem for you. Even if you handed a child the benefits from your life insurance policy or the proceeds from the sale of your home – they could do a lot of damage. Just think back to when you were 18. If you were handed $100K, or even $50K, would you invest it to have it available for your future family? Or would you take it and buy a fancy car, expensive clothing, and throw parties and invite all of your friends?

The lesson for all of us is that no matter how healthy we are, we should take steps to make sure our family will be cared for if we are no longer able to do it. Putting a will or trust in place to help our loved ones carry on without us is critical whether we have the estate of a movie star or not.

Do the right thing for your family; get informed so you can determine the next steps for your particular situation.  If you would like to learn more about protecting your family, reach out by email give me a call at (949) 260-1400; we also have monthly parent workshops