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Matthew Perry and the Details of the Curiously Named Living Trust

By Catherine Hodder, Esq. | Reviewed by Joseph Fawbush, Esq. | Last updated on

Matthew Perry, the late actor of the iconic show Friends, died suddenly in 2023 from the acute effects of ketamine. Now, intriguing details are trending about his will and living trust.

Celebrities, like anyone else, should plan for the future with estate planning documents such as a will and trust. A will is a legal document where you name who you want to handle your estate, who should receive your property, and who should care for your minor children. A living trust is another legal document that can work with your will, such as a pour-over will, which keeps assets out of your name (and out of probate) and keeps details of your estate private.

What Are the Details of Matthew Perry’s Will and Trust?

The Name. Perry established the “Alvy Singer Living Trust.” Alvy Singer is the name of Woody Allen’s character in “Annie Hall.” Generally, people setting up trusts name them after themselves, such as “The Homer and Marge Simpson Living Trust” or after their family, for example, “The Simpson Family Trust.” You can name a trust however you wish, as Perry did when paying tribute to his favorite character.

The Beneficiaries. Perry was unmarried at his death. The trust beneficiaries are his father, John Perry, and mother, Suzanne Morrison. His half-sister Caitlin Morrison and ex-girlfriend, Rachel Dunn, are also beneficiaries. He did not have children. Perry’s will contained specific instructions that any children he had would not inherit from his estate. Why did he put that? Perhaps to avoid claims against his estate from people alleging to be his children. However, if there is a child under the age of 18 who could prove Perry is their father, they may have a claim for an intestate share of his estate.

The Trustees. The trustees of the Alvy Singer Living Trust are Lisa Ferguson and Robin Ruzan. Ferguson was Perry’s business manager, and Robin Ruzan was a friend and executive producer on Celebrity Liar. It is unusual to have co-trustees because there can be confusion and conflicts. Generally, you name one trustee and a successor trustee if your first choice is unable to serve. Ruzan declined to be a trustee, so Ferguson will serve as the sole trustee.

The Trust Property. Perry’s estate is valued at over $120 million. Which is most likely intellectual property and royalty income from his sitcom role as Chandler Bing, his movies, and his autobiography “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.”

How Does a Living Trust Work?

When you form a living trust, you form an entity to own property and assets while you are still alive. As the trust creator, called the grantor, you make a legal document called a living trust. In the trust document, you name who manages the trust, called the trustee, and who benefits from the trust assets, called the beneficiaries.

The next critical step is to fund the trust. That means you transfer ownership of your property and assets from your name to the name of the trust.

A living trust is also known as a revocable trust, which means you can move assets in and out of the trust and cancel the trust entirely. Even though the trust now owns the assets, you can appoint yourself as the trustee and the beneficiary of the trust during your lifetime and a successor trustee to manage the trustee assets after you die for your alternate beneficiaries.

What Property Can I Put in a Trust?

For a trust to operate correctly, you must fund the trust with your property and assets. You can include a wide variety of assets in your trust. Many people fund their trusts with the following:

  • Real estate. You can transfer your home, investment property, or land into a trust by using a quit-claim deed.
  • Personal property. You can assign ownership of your jewelry, art, and collectibles to the trust with a general assignment listing your items.
  • Bank accounts. You can retitle bank accounts, money market accounts, investment accounts, and CDs under the name of the trust or open up new accounts under the trust name and transfer money into those accounts.
  • Investment accounts. You can transfer stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and brokerage accounts into the trust.
  • Intellectual property. You can assign any patents, copyrights, and trademarks to the trust.
  • Interests in business entities. You can put your ownership interests in businesses such as a partnership or LLC into the trust.
  • Life insurance proceeds. You can make your trust the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.

The Hollywood actor knew (or had good advice) to protect his estate with estate planning documents like a will and living trust. Trusts, however, can be complex, so it is best to consult an estate planning attorney to see if one is suitable for your situation.

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