Did Burt Reynolds Really Disinherit His Son?


Burt Reynolds starred in a variety of blockbuster hits including Smokey and the Bandit and Boogie Nights.  Being such a Hollywood icon, it is presumed Mr. Reynold’s accumulated a very large estate during his lifetime.  Mr. Reynolds died on September 6, 2018 and is now being talked about for seemingly not including his son in his will.  However, the disinheritance is not what it may seem. 

In Mr. Reynold’s will, he specifically stated in regards to his son, “I intentionally omit him from this Will and Testament, as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust.”  

Although Mr. Reynolds may have not provided for his son in his will, it appears that he left his son as a beneficiary of a trust.  For example, when creating a revocable trust, all assets may be transferred to the trust.  The trustee, on behalf of the trust, owns the assets.  The creator of the trust can act as the trustee.  Upon the death of trustee, the assets of the trust are disbursed according to the terms of the trust document.  

The trust may have been a better estate planning option for Mr. Reynolds as it provided a greater level of privacy than a will.  Upon the death of the individual, a will must be filed and becomes a public record.  A trust, however, is not filed with the Court and it does not become a public record.

Although Mr. Reynolds had accumulated a large estate, trusts are beneficial in a variety of situations, not just for the rich and famous.  Trusts can be established to provide for children’s education expenses or to assist a family member that has special needs.

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones