Fans of actor Burt Reynolds were left mourning in early September, following news the Smokey and the Bandit star had passed away from a heart attack aged 82.
Reynolds left an estimated fortune of US$5 million (AU$6.8 million), but media reports claim he left his only son, Quentin, out of the Will. However, it’s unlikely that the 30-year-old is going to contest his father’s Will because he is still set to receive an inheritance.
TMZ published Reynolds’ Will soon after the icon’s death, with the document stating that Burt set up a trust for his son that appears to contain the majority of the star’s assets. The proceeds from the trust already go to Quentin and will continue to do so, with any residuary assets from Burt’s estate funnelling back into the trust anyway.
Why are assets placed in trusts?
A trust is a legal arrangement whereby assets are controlled by a trustee on behalf of beneficiaries. For example, parents may place money, property and investments in a trust to ensure any young children are appropriately provided for should the worst happen.
If the parents died, the trustee would manage the trust and release funds for the care of the children as necessary. Trusts are also used to minimise inheritance taxes in many countries, although Australia doesn’t impose these levies on families.
Some people also set up trusts to prevent family wealth from being frittered away by future generations or reduced through divorce arrangements and other claims.
Burt names niece as trustee
Reynolds’ Will specifies that his niece, Nancy Lee Brown Hess, is the trustee of his fortune. It is not clear why the actor chose his niece rather than Quentin to manage the trust, given that his son is now an adult. However, Burt famously squandered much of the wealth he accumulated during his 1970s heydays. He filed for bankruptcy in 1996 after falling US$10 million into debt.
“I’ve lost more money than is possible because I just haven’t watched it. I’ve still done well in terms of owning property and things like that. But I haven’t been somebody who’s been smart about his money,” he told Vanity Fair in 2015.
The elder Reynolds may have feared a similar fate would befall his son and decided to instead safeguard his future. So, while Burt left his son out of the Will, Quentin is still likely to be well provided for through the proceeds of the trust.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. If you have been disinherited by a loved one, you may be able to contest the Will and receive a share of their estate. Contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers for a free consultation to find out how.