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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Burt Reynolds Disinherits Son?

Shortly after the news broke that legendary actor Burt Reynolds had passed away, sources began whispering that he had also disinherited his only child, Quinton Anderson Reynolds. While it is true that Quinton is intentionally omitted from his father’s will, he was not disinherited.

The Language That Got People Talking 


The language that got tongues wagging after Burt Reynolds passed away is this: “At the time that I execute this, my Last Will and Testament, I am not married, and I have one (1) child, QUINTON A. REYNOLDS. I intentionally omit him from this, my Last Will and Testament, as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust.”  

At first blush it appears that Quinton was cut out of his father’s will. But a closer reading reveals that the actor instead gave his son some privacy, and probably avoided some estate taxes, by using a trust to accomplish his estate planning goals. The will is basically an empty document because the trust appears to control everything. 

Unless some sort of lawsuit is filed over the trust’s inner workings in the future, we will never know its terms. That sort of privacy is obviously valued by celebrities, but it is something that average Joe’s and Jane’s can appreciate as well. When you have worked hard your entire life to build up something you can pass onto the next generation, that is nobody’s business but your own. A trust makes the transfer private, quick, and cost-effective, with time and costs being saved by avoiding probate and minimizing estate taxes. 

Our firm regularly works with clients who want to set up trusts in order to keep their personal business private, avoid probate, and minimize estate taxes. Trusts are extremely versatile and endlessly customizable, which make them an ideal estate planning tool. 

The Real Snub? 

The media is also making a big to-do of the fact that Reynolds did not name is son as his personal representative. Instead, he tasked his niece, Nancy Lee Brown Hess, with administering his estate. Should his son take offense? 

Probably not. It is a good idea to name different people to different roles in your estate plan so there is no actual or perceived conflict of interest. Ms. Hess may also have been selected over Quinton because the will was executed in 2011, when he was only in his early 20s. 

Nothing To See Here 


At the end of the day, Burt Reynolds really has a standard-issue, move-it-along, nothing-to-see-here will. It’s generally the sort of document everyone should want to have whether they have set up a trust or do everything with a will. Nobody wants their end of life plans to cause a lot of drama. And last will and testaments are certainly not the place to test out novel legal theories that might get the whole thing thrown out or challenged by the IRS. 

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