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Robin Williams Set Up a Trust for His Kids. Should You?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Actor Robin Williams passed after taking his own life on Monday, but a trust he set up before his death aims to legally protect his children.

According to TMZ, the legendary comedian set up a trust while he was alive to provide for his three children: Cody, 22; Zelda, 25; and Zachary, 31. This trust did not include the whole of Williams' assets, which may have been a good thing in light of his shaky finances near the end of his life.

How does Robin Williams' trust support his children, and should you follow suit?

Trust Funds Distributed Over Time

Although reports are unclear as to how much money was contained within Williams' children's trust, he did devise a prudent way of distributing its funds. TMZ reports that each of the three children would receive a share of the trust with:

  • One-third to be distributed when they each turned 21;
  • One-half of the remainder to be distributed when each turned 25; and
  • The full share when each child turned 30.

By this math, Robin's son Cody has only received one-third of his eventual share of the trust, while Zachary has been distributed his full share. According to TMZ, Williams made this arrangement because he worried that his children would squander their money while they were young. This concept is better known as a spendthrift trust, a trust which provides for the benefit of a beneficiary but prevents him or her from reaching the majority of the trust's funds.

By keeping the lion's share of trust assets out of the beneficiary's hands, a spendthrift trust can ensure that a beneficiary's debts and bankruptcy will not touch the trust.

Setting Up a Living Trust

TMZ reports that Williams' trust was created in 2009, five years before his death. If you wish to secure certain assets for your children's benefit prior to your death, you should also consider a living trust. A living trust can provide for your family while you're still alive, and unlike a will, does not need to go through probate once you die.

If there are any assets you'd wish to include in a trust upon your death, a simple "pour-over" clause can accomplish that.

Hopefully Williams died believing his children were provided for, and with the right estate planning, you too may have the same peace of mind.

  • Need help getting your family's legal affairs in order? Get in touch with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in your area today.

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