After the messy states that celebrities like James Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman left their affairs in, it is encouraging to see that Robin Williams took the time to plan for his family. His estate is reportedly worth $25 million in real estate equity alone, after combining his Napa Valley mansion on 653 acres with his 6,500 square foot Tiburon, California home.
According to Crains, Williams' sophisticated planning may be a direct result of two very costly divorces, said to total $30 million. Regardless of the catalyst, Williams made smart use of trusts to protect his estate, avoid probate, and keep his affairs private, likely retaining a considerable amount of money for his family while saving them a lot of legal entanglement.
Williams provided for his three adult children, aged 22-31, via two different trusts. His real estate is held under another trust, Domus Dulcis Domus (Home Sweet Home) Holding Trust, and appears to have been created to minimize estate taxes. "Real estate holding trusts, when made irrevocably and drafted and used the right way, can often carve valuable real estate outside of someone's taxable estate. With the $25 million or so in equity, this could add up to a substantial savings for Williams' heirs," explains Crains.
In a separate trust from 2009 leaked to the press, Williams split his estate between his three children, to be distributed at the ages of 21, 25 and 30.
Robin Williams was famous for portraying characters that taught valuable life lessons. Now, even in his death, he is setting an example. His prudence and forethought have left his family free from unnecessary publicity and financial stress as they grieve their loss.