Estate Administration: Fast and the Furious Star, Paul Walker, Dies in Car Crash at 40 Years Old
Any one who has ever watched a Fast and the Furious movie was shocked over this past weekend to learn that one of the franchise's stars, Paul Walker, was killed in car crash in California on Saturday. At 40 years old, Walker was young and in good health. His death was extremely sudden and unexpected. It is unclear at this time whether the actor, who has a vast fortune as a result of his Fast and the Furious success, had an estate plan in place. Given his young age and presumably good health, it is possible that Walker had not yet given any thought to planning for his death.
Walker is survived by his only child, a daughter, Meadow, and a long-term girlfriend. Walker's girlfriend is not the mother of his daughter. If Walker left behind a will, it is likely that he left the whole of his fortune, worth millions of dollars, to his daughter. It is possible that he also left something to his girlfriend, as the two had been together for approximately seven years and were apparently planning a future together.
If Walker did not leave behind a will, his daughter will likely still get the whole of his fortune. Although Walker lived in California, if he were a Pennsylvania resident at the time of his death, Pennsylvania intestacy laws would dictate that his estate would pass to his daughter, his only surviving child, in its entirety. Walker's girlfriend, because they were unmarried, would take nothing under Pennsylvania intestacy laws. If he and his girlfriend had been married, she would take a third of his estate while his daughter would take the rest.
Because Walker's daughter is a minor, without a will, the court would appoint a guardian or trustee to oversee her inheritance for her. The individual appointed by the court would not be the girl's mother. Walker's daughter would then receive the whole of her inheritance when she turned eighteen. If Walker had a will, it is likely that he would have drafted a minor's trust, wherein his daughter would get her inheritance in increments. For example, a minor's trust may have a provision that the trustee can make discretionary distributions to the minor for education related expenses and then the minor will receive payouts of the principal balance of the minor's trust at certain ages, 25, 28, and 30. This distribution scheme is likely more in line with what Walker would have wished for his daughter. Most parents believe that their young adult children are incapable of being financially responsible enough to be in control of millions of dollars.
If you have questions about Pennsylvania estate administration or why you need a will or estate plan, please contact our experienced estate planning attorneys today at 724-940-0100.