High Net-Worth Estate Planning

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High Net-Worth Estate Planning

Understanding Residual Income

Residual income, especially prevalent in the entertainment industry, refers to ongoing payments received for work done in the past. This income can stem from royalties in TV shows, movies, music, or books. A notable example is the late Matthew Perry, whose role in Friends brought him substantial residuals, as highlighted in a CNBC article.

The Importance of Estate Planning for Residual Income

For individuals with significant residual income, estate planning is crucial. It ensures that their assets are distributed according to their wishes and can help mitigate complex legal and financial issues after their passing.

Case Study: Matthew Perry's Estate

Matthew Perry's situation, as reported by CNBC, underscores the importance of estate planning. His residuals from Friends posed potential complexities for his estate's distribution, given his high net-worth status and the substantial ongoing income from the show.

Options for Estate Planning with Residual Income

Naming Individual Beneficiaries

One can designate individuals to receive residual income after their death. This straightforward approach ensures that specific people benefit from the residuals.

Establishing Trusts

Trusts offer more control and privacy than wills. They can stipulate how and when beneficiaries receive the income, providing long-term financial stability and tax benefits.

Implications of No Named Beneficiary

If no beneficiary is named, state laws dictate the distribution of assets. This scenario can lead to unintended beneficiaries or legal disputes, emphasizing the need for clear estate planning.

Legal and Financial Considerations

Wills, Trusts, and Probate

Wills and trusts are essential tools in estate planning. While wills are public and go through probate, trusts offer more privacy and can bypass the probate process.

Tax Implications

Estates with significant residual income face potential tax liabilities. Effective planning can minimize these taxes, preserving more wealth for beneficiaries.

Charitable Donations

Charitable giving can be an effective way to reduce estate taxes. Donations are not subject to estate taxes, providing a way to support philanthropic causes while managing tax liabilities.

Estate Planning for Different Family Dynamics

Estate planning can include extended family, friends, or charitable organizations for individuals without direct heirs. This approach ensures that their legacy supports causes or individuals aligned with their values.

The Role of Professional Advisors

Navigating estate planning for high net-worth individuals requires professional advice. Legal and financial advisors can provide tailored strategies to address complex scenarios and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

Case Studies of Effective Estate Planning

Other high-net-worth individuals have successfully managed their estates through effective planning. These cases offer valuable lessons in ensuring that one's legacy is preserved, and wishes are honored.


Estate planning is vital for individuals with significant residual income. It ensures that their assets are distributed according to their wishes, provides financial security for beneficiaries and can significantly impact their legacy. As seen in the case of Matthew Perry, without proper planning, the distribution of residual income can become a complex and potentially contentious issue. Therefore, engaging with professional advisors and considering all legal and financial aspects is essential for effective estate planning.

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