Tom Clancy: Author, Fan Favorite and Probate Lesson
Tom Clancy was a New York Times best-selling American author known for writing thrillers with detailed themes of espionage, military, science, politics, and technology. Unfortunately, his last will, testament, and particularly his second supplement to his will lacked the precision of his own writing.
Tom Clancy passed away at the age of 66 in Baltimore, Maryland on October 1, 2013. Less than a year after Clancy passed away, a battle over his estate unfolded in a Maryland probate court. The estate, which is estimated to be worth $83 million and could gain even greater value as Clancy’s works continue to be produced and sold, is being fought over by Clancy’s widow and his adult children who were born to his former first wife. Also there’s an amount of money adding up to $18 million in state and federal taxes, which Clancy’s widow is formally drawing a request to transfer over to the late author’s four adult children.
“It seems as if Tom Clancy did not plan his estate as carefully as the highly organized military operatives in his novels,” comments Rocco Beatrice, Managing Director of Estate Street Planners, LLC.
It was smart of Tom Clancy to create trusts so that future earnings can be managed in an easier and more effective manner. The fact that there is probate battle over estate taxation shows that Clancy did not use an irrevocable trust, which could have prevented the current courtroom fight and the unwelcome media attention into his family’s finances.
An irrevocable trust is a trust created by an individual that by its design cannot be amended, modified, changed or revoked. When you create an irrevocable trust, its efficacy will be dictated by its construction, funding, and management. An irrevocable trust is made to avoid probate, minimize taxation, and eliminate the worry of having to create a will that can be introduced in court and become public.
Tom Clancy should not have waited until passing away to create his trusts. Had Clancy created and funded an irrevocable trust instead of relying on a will and some supplements to his will as the governing documents of his estate plan, then the intimate details of his final wishes would have remained a private family matter.
If you’d like to talk about your plans for the future, a Phoenix estate planning attorney at Kamper Estrada, LLP can help. Call us today. We are careful in every will and trust creation, jurisdiction, and management.