Estate Planning and Honey Boo Boo

estate planning, trusts, honey boo boo, mama june

Estate Planning and Honey Boo Boo

Looking back, many would argue that America, and the world for that matter, was not ready for TLC’s reality TV Show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.  Created in 2012, the show revolved around six-year-old pageant starlet Alana, aka Honey Boo Boo, and her family who lived a modest lifestyle in rural Georgia.

If you are at all familiar with the show, sophistication is likely the last word that comes to your mind.  However, while Honey Boo Boo and the Shannon family may not appear to be the most educated people in the country, June Shannon, aka Mama June, may be more financially savvy than most Americans.

In fact, Hollywood is ripe with stories of child actors whose fortunes were mismanaged by their parents—Macaulay Culkin and Leann Rimes are two examples of child stars who had to wrestle their fortunes from the hands of their parents.  Mama June, it seems, was determined to avoid such a fate for her family.

Last January, Mama June explained in an interview that the $15,000 – $20,000 the family receives for each episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was equally divided into trust funds for each of her children.

By creating a trust fund for her kids, Mama June has shown that a trust is an effective legal device that can be used by anyone, not just the super wealthy.  Under the provisions of Mama June’s trust, her children will be unable to access the money earned from the show until they turn 21 (or in the event of a medical emergency).

Unfortunately, today, Anna ‘Chickadee’ Cardwell, one of Mama June’s daughters, claims Mama June drained nearly $15,000 from her trust fund.  The exact details of the trust funds created by Mama June are unclear.

However, if ‘Chickadee’s’ claims are to be believed, it would mean Mama June may have set up a revocable trust as opposed to an irrevocable trust.  As to whether ‘Chickadee’s’ allegations have merit, consider the fact that the young reality TV star is now promoting “essential oils that cure Ebola”.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was recently canceled by TLC when it was discovered that Mama June reignited a relationship with a man who was convicted of molesting one of Honey Boo Boo’s younger relatives.

Regardless of how the Honey Boo Boo drama pans out, do not underestimate the importance of using trusts in your estate plan.  If you need guidance with a will contest or estate planning matter in North or Central New Jersey, contact or call 908-­236­-6457 at your convenience.  We also make house calls in Northern New Jersey and New York City.

UPDATE: Recently, Mama June paid Chickadee back $15,400. For a full update click here.

Robin Williams & Your Estate Plan

Robin Williams NJ Estate Planning

Robin Williams & Your Estate Plan

The brilliant comedian and actor Robin Williams took his own life in mid-August. While the details of his current estate plan are not public, there are some clear indications that Mr.Williams took efforts to financially protect his heirs.

Although he brought laughter and entertainment to a worldwide audience, Mr. Williams suffered from lifelong depression that sometimes manifested in addictive behavior. According to media reports, Mr. Williams, at 63-years old, was recently diagnosed as suffering from early stage Parkinson’s disease. In spite of these personal difficulties, Mr.Williams had an enduring career as a hard-working and successful performer.

After accumulating a significant estate, Mr. Williams saw his fortunes ebb in the wake of two divorces and a third marriage. At the time of his death, the assets of Mr.Williams’s estate likely include:

  • A 653-acre property in Napa Valley, California valued at approximately $29.9 million
  • Residential property in Tiburon, California valued at roughly $6 million
  • Proceeds of insurance and other investment funds
  • Licensing and royalties from future use of his likeness and lifetime of work

The net worth of Mr. Williams is estimated at around $50 million. Even given debt and mortgage, his heirs stand to inherit millions of dollars.

Early media efforts uncovered two trusts, dated in 1989 and 2009, set up for his children. The older trust was created for the benefit of the oldest son of Mr. Williams, Zachary, now 31 years of age. The second trust names Zachary and his two siblings, Zelda, age 25, and Cody, age 22. Provisions of the trust call for structured distributions to the children at 21, 25 and 30 years of age.

Naming structured distribution dates, as Mr. Williams did with the second trust, could potentially imperil the financial largesse intended for each child. Trusts of this nature do not account for the maturity and lifestyle of the child at the time of impending distribution. The inheritance could also be threatened by a pending lawsuit or divorce that occurs when a trust distribution comes due.

News of these trusts gives insight into the concern Mr.Williams had for his children. Recently, a spokesperson for the family indicated the two trusts are not part of his current estate plan.  There are also reports that Mr. Williams used a revocable trust to keep his heirs out of court.

As a relatively sophisticated estate planner, Mr. Williamsundoubtedly created trust documents to carry his estate forward. Unlike the two older trusts, hopefully the valid estate plan of Mr. Williams will not be splashed across the Internet—and will serve to protect his family financially in the manner he intended.

If you have questions about creating a will, trust or estate plan in Union or Hunterdon County, email Alec Borenstein, Esq., a partner with the firm, at or call 908-236-6457.

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