Additionally, according to USA Today, the filings call for the actor’s father, Paul William Walker III, to have authority to sell or invest estate property as needed. Walker’s mother, Cheryl Ann Walker, is named as the guardian of the actor’s daughter and was also appointed to oversee her portion of the estate until she reaches adulthood.
While it appears Walker had everything taken care of based on the instructions in his will, much was left undone, which may have negative repercussions for his teenager teenage daughter down the road.
Because Meadow Walker’s biological mother is still alive, there may still be a battle over her custody, despite her father’s wishes. Single parents often appoint someone other than the biological parent to raise their child if the unthinkable happens, but this is not typically honored by the courts unless there is good reason (history of addiction, abuse, etc.). However, given her age, the judge may take Meadow’s wishes for guardianship into account.
Exposure To Predators
Other legal problems stem from the fact that Walker did not set up a trust before he died to protect his young daughter. Without a trust, all of the proceedings of his estate will be made entirely public, alerting every con-artist in the country as to what Meadow stands to inherit and when. This not only jeopardizes her privacy, but her safety as well.
Dangers of Outright Inheritance
Likewise, without a trust, Meadow will receive her full inheritance at age 18. There will be no opportunity to protect her money from reckless spending, mismanagement, scams, divorce or future bankruptcy. A trust, on the other hand, would have put “speed bumps” around the money by allowing someone else to manage the funds until she reached certain milestones (i.e. graduation of college, marriage) or was deemed by her father to be at an age where she was mature enough to handle the responsibility.
Love vs. The Law
There’s no doubt Paul Walker loved his daughter and wanted to give her the world; unfortunately, he was the victim of bad legal advice and did not take many steps that would have fully protected his daughter and kept her affairs private in the wake of his passing.
As hard as it is to think about, every parent must educate themselves on what would happen to their minor children if they passed away—whether they have a large estate like Paul Walker’s or a modest one. It doesn’t take celebrity status for a child to wind up in a custody battle or receive an inheritance before they are mature enough to handle it.
By simply planning ahead and learning about the legal tools available, parents can ensure their child’s privacy stays protected and that their assets are safely available for their children in the future. Any other way opens the door to creditors, predators, interference from the government and the potential for teenagers to make poor decisions when facing a life without mom or dad.
Darlynn Morgan is an estate planning lawyer at Morgan Law Group, a unique law firm that she created to truly make a difference in the lives of her clients.
She’s really good at making it easy for your family to talk about and plan for tough subjects like money, death and taxes. For more, you can Follow her on Twitter , Friend her on Facebook or check out her Blog. If that’s not enough, you can also find her on Linked In or Avvo.