Interesting News from the World of Estate Planning: Prenups, Hollywood & Associations

John O’Grady, O’Grady Law Group, APC

The Power of the Prenuptial Agreement

Actor Dennis Hopper’s 9-year-old daughter inherited $2.85 million from her dad’s estate despite the fact her parents were entangled in a nasty divorce battle at the time of his death. Hopper died in 2010, before his acrimonious divorce with Victoria Duffy could be finalized. Duffy, Hopper’s estranged fifth wife of 14 years, fought tooth and nail for a stake in her late husband’s estate. With an iron-clad prenuptial agreement, Hopper made sure their 9-year-old daughter will be taken care of without Duffy’s interference. Can you talk to your beloved about money?

Love and Money in Hollywood

Say you’re an elderly recluse living alone on a farm without running water – even though you’re worth over a million dollars. But you have no family or friends you want to leave your money to. What do you do? If your two favorite actors are Kevin Brophy and Peter Barton, you might do what Ray Fulk of Illinois did. He left $5,000 to a Chicago-area animal shelter, and $500,000 each to “these two strangers” he referred to as “friends” in his will. Mr. Brophy most famously played the title role in “Lucan,” a mid-seventies TV series about a boy raised by wolves who is institutionalized. Barton played Dr. Scott Grainger in “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” soap operas during the eighties and nineties. If Fulk hadn’t named beneficiaries in his will, his assets would have gone to family members who he had either never met or didn’t like. Update your estate plan to ensure that your money goes to the people and causes that matter most to you!

One Happy Alzheimer’s Association

Helen Banas’ husband died in 1958, and she never remarried or had children. She lived alone in a small townhouse and was known for being frugal. But when she passed away at age 95, most people who thought they knew Banas found out they really didn’t, because she had kept a big secret. According to the Orange County Register, she was worth $27 million and she had no heirs. The beneficiary of her financial largesse: the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County. It was the largest donation the charity had ever received – and even with $10 million going to the organization’s national office, the remaining $17 million more than quadrupled the local chapter’s annual budget. Friends report that Banas decided to donate all her assets to the Alzheimer’s Association to honor her mother, who suffered from the degenerative brain disease in her final years. Do you have a favorite charity you want to include in your plan?

About the author:

ogradyJohn O‘Grady, O’Grady Law Group, APC,  is the immediate Past Chair of BASF’s Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Section.