The Importance of Living Trusts in Estate Planning: Lessons from Matthew Perry’s Estate

New details emerging about Matthew Perry’s estate have brought renewed attention to the critical role of living trusts in comprehensive estate planning. The beloved Friends actor passed away eight months ago, and a recent Newsweek article reported that one feature in his will has people “scratching their heads.” See

Why did an actor who was reportedly worth around $120 million at the time of his death, have just a little more than $1.5 million in his personal bank account?

Why are trusts a common tool for estate planning in California?

  • Wills and estate plans often work together, where you fund the trust during your lifetime, and the will would be a catch-all that transfers any remaining assets to the trust upon your death.
  • A living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust, is a legal document created during a person’s lifetime where a designated trustee holds legal title to the property for another person. Unlike a will, which only goes into effect after death, a living trust is effective immediately and can manage the distribution of assets both during the grantor’s life and after their death.

What are some of the benefits of a living trust?

  • Avoiding Probate: Probate can be time-consuming and costly, often tying up assets for months or even years. By placing assets in a living trust, you can prepare for your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance without the delays and expenses associated with probate.
  • Maintaining Privacy: Unlike a will, which becomes a public document upon your death, a living trust remains private. For high-profile individuals like Matthew Perry, this privacy is crucial in protecting their estate from public scrutiny.
  • Incapacity Planning: You can designate a trustee to manage your affairs without the need for court-appointed guardianship if you become incapacitated, ensuring that your finances are handled according to your wishes without interruption.
  • Flexibility and Control: With a living trust, you maintain control over your assets and can make changes as needed. You can add or remove assets, change beneficiaries, or amend the terms of the trust as your circumstances change.
  • Efficient Estate Settlement: A living trust can expedite the distribution of assets to your beneficiaries, reducing the time your loved ones have to wait to receive their inheritance.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

The importance of estate planning cannot be overstated, and the settlement of the Matthew Perry estate is an example of how thoughtful planning and preparation can help ease the burden of your loved ones.  For Californians, working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you create a living trust tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience in all aspects of estate planning and we focus on serving clients in Solano, Napa and Yolo. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.