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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Over the past three years that we have provided this estate planning blog on our firm’s website we have often discussed instances where celebrities are other famous people have made serious mistakes with their estate planning. These mistakes range from either not having any estate planning done at all, to having a confusing estate plan that does nothing but cause contention and disputes between the person’s family members and loved ones. It’s easy to pick on celebrities because they are so visible. However, to be fair, we have also provided many articles about things that many celebrities have done right.

In today’s article we are going to discuss a celebrity who did things right. This celebrity is Burt Reynolds who passed away in the fall of 2018 at the age of 82. As with many celebrities, upon his death there were many articles having to do with his estate planning. Some of these articles stated that he had disinherited his son because his last will and testament had a sentence in it that stated the following: “I intentionally omit my son from this my last will and testament as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust.” In other words, it appears that Burt Reynolds used a living trust as part of his estate plan.

This is where most articles end having to do with Burt Reynolds. The reason for this is because while a last will and testament is a public document that is typically filed with a court, a living trust is not. As a result, no one except for Burt Reynolds’ family has any details about what the living trust does that he created. It’s anticipated that he made a provision for his son to be a beneficiary of the trust. However, regardless of whether he did or did not do this, by placing his property into a trust, both while he was alive, and through his pour-over will after his death, Burt Reynolds was able to keep his estate planning private and away from the prying eyes of reporters, and fans.

From his estate planning we can learn several things. First, we can learn the importance of the ability of keeping an estate plan confidential and private. By utilizing a trust, there is no probate of the property that’s in the trust which means there is no way for third parties to gather information about the estate plan itself. Secondly, by utilizing a trust, Burt Reynolds was able to take care of himself while he was alive and was able to provide for his family and loved ones after his death in the way that he chose. Finally, we can learn the importance of actually having a well-thought-out and written estate plan in the first place. For family, losing a loved one is difficult enough. It becomes more difficult when there is either no estate plan or when there is an inadequate estate plan in place that causes more problems than it solves.

Based on these lessons, we suggest that you consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to help you create your own estate plan. We have assisted numerous clients in creating their estate plans and we are confident we can help you too.


If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.

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