Real Housewives of Atlanta's Kandi Burress Finally Makes An Estate Plan & Debates Trust Fund Choices
Updated: Aug 3
The drama on a recent episode of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Atlanta wasn't centered around the catfights, a girls trip or who threw the most shade, it was how the kids would be provided for in Kandi Burress and Todd Tucker's estate plan. But perhaps more shocking than how their four children would be provided for, was the fact that they hadn't worked with an estate planning attorney to create a plan in the first place.
Kandi Burress singer/songwriter, actress, producer, restauranteur, entrepreneur and all-around mogul is a multi-millionaire with a wide reaching empire. She had been very careful to work with an attorney to craft an airtight pre-nuptial agreement complete with having Todd Tucker's signature on video to show clearly he wasn't under duress. So it was shocking to know that she didn't long ago work with an estate planning attorney to have a will and revocable living trust in place to protect her wealth, assets from probate and to outline her afterlife wishes.
After business contracts, non-disclosure agreements, hundreds of employment contracts, labor lawsuits, surrogate contracts, songwriting royalty lawsuits, independent representative agreements and more, why was an estate plan the last on the list? Thank goodness her estate won't end up like Prince's or Aretha Franklin's who had no wills, and a lot of their hard work ended up lost in probate and dispute. Granted, its possible that she had one prior to marriage, but it truly seemed like it was her first time thinking through the questions of how to divide assets. The great thing to see is that no matter how much you have and whether you're a multi-millionaire or not, we all go through similar struggles when it's time to decide who gets what and how.
The big debate and what's causing a stir online is opinions on Todd Tucker treating the children from previous relationships differently, namely being harder on and giving less money to his older daughter vs his children with Kandi Burress. He also was visibly upset at the fact that Kandi said she couldn't trust that if she died, that Todd's guardianship decisions wouldn't provide for the kids in the same way she would and he wouldn't "give up the coins". Todd also preferred an estate plan where their trust funds were distributed at intervals, when they reached certain ages vs them getting all the assets right away. Their daughters, especially Riley, was not too happy about Todd's type of estate plan.
Top 5 Inheritance Distribution Options for Children of Every Age
Hopefully Kandi and Todd will change the narrative that you have to be a certain age to create an estate plan, and with such a large following, make younger people consider creating a will and trust for their own family. So are you Team Kandi or Team Todd? You'll be surprised to learn that trust fund distribution does not have to be all one way or the other. If you're wondering what are the options for shelling out the coins in the trust fund you set up for your children, we're gonna break down the top 5 trust fund distribution options that work for kids at various stages. One of the top rated estate planning attorneys in California, from The Law Offices of Richard W. McGinnis, can help you decide the best way to protect your assets from probate and create a will and trust fund that aligns with your family values.
1. (Team Kandi) Choose a lump sum or (Team Todd) or phased inheritance.
If you give a lump sum distribution:
Pros Are: All assets are given at once, providing an opportunity to earn interest off of the lump sum. The inheritance can set your children up earlier in life to make bigger moves such as starting a business or buying a home.
Cons Are: If your children spend it all at once, there is no opportunity to have a second chance. They also may miss investment opportunities or may be unable to make big moves such as purchasing property all cash, and may go into debt. Lastly they may spend it before your grandchildren are born or they reach late life milestones.
If you decide to stagger distribution of a trust fund by age (ex. 20, 30, 40)
Pros Are: Your children will have money for every major life milestone and you will have an opportunity to guarantee distribution to the next generation. They will learn from mistakes in the first distribution of funds, and perhaps be more reliable with the next phase of money. If money is spent all at once, mishandled or lost to illness or a divorce, your children will still be provided for later in life.
Cons Are: Your heirs may be disgruntled with having to wait for the distributions. Having the trust fund's looming distributions may affect their relationships in that partners may choose them to gain access to it, or your children may prematurely take actions to achieve life milestones early to gain access or be underachievers in waiting for the next distribution.
2. The Best of Both Worlds: Why choose when you can have both? A joint option gives a lump sum distribution AND a staggered trust fund distribution in the estate plan. It's a plan that will see them through the early stages of grieving, provide a lump sum to kickstart their lives and provide a phased out safety net for later stages and/or grandchildren.
3. A Lifetime Trust. A good choice if you have a super trustworthy executor and children are very young or have a medical issue or addictive behaviors with drugs, gambling etc. A lifetime trust has assets with no required distributions and it's up to the executor's decision to decide when and how assets are given out. Heirs are not allowed to make demands for money.
4. Milestone-Based Distribution. We all know some children mature and achieve faster than what is normal for their age while others fail to launch. If you want to provide for achievements regardless of age, milestone distribution may be the right choice for you. It would provide for milestones such as starting and graduating from college, getting married, having children, starting a business, buying a home, etc.
5. Co-Trustee Preparation. Some also opt to give their children experience administering a trust fund while you're still alive as a co-trustee, so they learn how to properly handle what they're being given. If you have adult age responsible children, this may be a great option to introduce them to the responsibility while they can think without grief being a factor. From there, they will be ready to handle one of the 4 distribution options above with a clear head.
*Special Provisions With any of these options you can build provisions into your will and trust to protect assets if your children experience mental health or substance abuse issues. Alternatively, you can protect asset loss from a divorce by requiring a prenuptial agreement before assets are provided in the terms of your estate plan developed with a living revocable trust attorney.
Knowing your children and making a personalized decision taking into consideration your child, your lifestyle and their individual circumstances is always the best option.
If you need help with your own life's reality show and determining which trust fund distribution option is right for you, consider a free estate planning consultation with revocable living trust attorney Richard W. McGinnis in Roseville, California. Available virtually or in-person by appointment Monday – Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. Call and for an appointment today to 916-784-6377.