If you drive south of Cocoa along the coast for about two hours, you will arrive in Jupiter, Florida, a city known for its glamorous mix of residents that includes both sports and entertainment industry celebrities. The most well-known of the stars calling Jupiter home was Burt Reynolds, the popular actor who recently passed away.
The star of “Deliverance,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and dozens of other films in a career that stretched over decades found his way back into headlines when it was revealed that he left his son out of his will. While some observers thought that meant Reynolds harbored some sort of issue with his 30-year-old son, it quickly became apparent that the actor took advantage of the benefits of a trust to pass his wealth on.
Reynolds and his ex-wife Loni Anderson adopted Quinton, who is mentioned in the will: “I intentionally omit him from this, my Last Will and Testament, as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust.”
According to news reports, Reynolds’ entire estate is in the trust. Details of the trust are unclear, which highlights another advantage of these estate-planning tools: the terms of trusts are not public information. Privacy and assets are both protected.
Trusts can also provide protection from taxes. In Reynolds’ case, his $5 million estate falls below the $11 million federal estate tax exemption.
Barrons points out another trust benefit: protection from creditors. The late actor had some financial problems at times, so it is possible that his son is shielded from having to deal with those.
A wealth management expert said, “A properly constructed trust could shield his assets to ensure they go to loved ones instead of debt collectors,” adding that during probate “creditors stand at the head of the line.”
Contact a Brevard County estate planning attorney for more information about how you can protect your loved ones and assets.