A Legal Lesson from Princess Leia

This weekend, over four thousand theaters across the country were flooded with Star Wars fans. Americans young and old turned out to see the debut of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. If you were there, you saw Carrie Fisher on screen, reprising her iconic role as Princess Leia Organa. Sadly, the actress who stole our hearts as Luke Skywalker’s unwitting twin sister was not there to see the premiere of this latest installment. On December 27, 2016, she passed away at the age of 60 from a heart attack.

Carrie was the daughter of Debbie Reynolds, a major celebrity in her own right. While planning funeral services for Carrie, Debbie suffered a stroke, and did not survive.

At the time, Carrie’s estate was reported to fall between $5 million and $25 million. Her mother Debbie’s estate was valued even higher, at $60 million to $85 million. Both women were unmarried but each left behind a child; Debbie’s son Todd Fisher, and Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd.

Carrie Fisher’s $18 million home, personal belongings and bank accounts, life insurance, several LLCs, and 2016 Tesla S, were turned over to her daughter. Billie Lourd, Fisher’s only child, was only 24 years old at the time she inherited. News outlets reported that the home Fisher shared with her late mother, Debbie Reynolds, was also passed on to Lourd. Princess Leia had acquired a lot of wealth.

That is a great deal of money and responsibility to inherit at such a young age. It was fortunate that both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds had trusts set up. It is yet to be seen if they set up these trusts in a way that truly protects their children and grandchildren long-term.

Many beneficiaries are not in a position to adequately manage such wealth on their own, for a variety of reasons. When you plan with an experienced attorney, your estate plan can include provisions which help ensure the inheritance will be used well. Hopefully Billie Lourd was given enough protections as a beneficiary, to help her handle this extensive inheritance properly and protect it from creditors and predators.

Sometimes we think of the future as happening in a galaxy far, far away. But you never know when incapacitation, disaster, or death can strike. For the actress of our favorite galactic royal, Princess Leia, it came unexpectedly. Not only should there be no delay in planning for your estate, but you should also review and renew the plan thoroughly and often. When you’ve done all you can to ensure a smooth transition for your loved ones, you’ll be able to rest easy today, knowing tomorrow is in good hands.

 

Sundance Law Group focuses on securing your future, family, and business through estate and business planning, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, trust administration, and business planning contracts and agreements. Our offices are located in Highland and Lehi, and we serve clients in Utah and Salt Lake Counties. You can contact us by phone 801.980.3401 or e-mail info@sundancelaw.com.

 

 

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