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Comedy legend Robin Williams took estate planning very seriously

America is still reeling over the sudden and tragic loss of perhaps its biggest comedy icon. The death of Robin Williams was so unexpected and sad that many fans have been struggling even to accept that it happened and are just now beginning to grieve.

In addition to his large body of work and critical acclaim, Williams left behind three children (now adults), a current wife and two ex-wives. If there is any solace to be found in Williams’ passing, it is that the comedy legend was very serious and thorough about his estate planning decisions.

As you can imagine, going through two divorces is very expensive, and this likely reduced the amount of money and assets that Williams could leave behind for his three kids, who range in age from 22 to 31 years old. Nonetheless, Williams reportedly used well-designed trusts to ensure that money was set aside for each of his kids.

According to news reports, Robin Williams set up a trust that gives each of his children equal payouts of money in three installments: At age 21, 25 and 30. This means his oldest child has probably already received the full amount set aside. Analysts believe that the trusts were established to shelter his kids from his many divorces. Estate planning may have been an afterthought.

Williams also reportedly put at least two pieces of high-value real estate into a trust containing about $25 million in total equity. Making these smart financial moves may minimize estate taxes for his heirs.

Whether or not you are rich and famous (and most of us are neither), smart estate planning strategies are a gift to your loved ones in addition to whatever assets you leave behind. You’ll want to know that your estate will be executed with as few snags as possible, and that your bequest will continue to care for your family long after you are gone.

Source: Crain’s Wealth, “How Robin Williams' estate plan aimed to protect his family,” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Aug. 14, 2014

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