Many NBA fans are still reeling from the news that superstar Kobe Bryant and his oldest daughter, 13-year old Gianna, died in a January 2020 helicopter crash. Any time a celebrity dies, there is speculation about what will happen to his or her estate. In recent years, there have been several notable news stories about famous actors and musicians who died without having done any estate planning, unintentionally leaving expensive messes and years-long court battles for their loved ones. What about Kobe?
Just 41 years old at the time of his death, the father of four had amassed a sizable fortune from 20 years spent in the NBA, endorsements, likeness rights, and business ventures. Little is known about his estate plan, except for the fact that he did have one. A Los Angeles County court filing from March shows that Kobe had apparently created a Trust for his wife and his three oldest daughters, but that the trust’s provisions did not automatically cover his youngest daughter, Capri.
The co-Trustees have petitioned the court for permission to amend the Trust to add Capri and allow her to inherit under the same terms as her sisters. A hearing is scheduled for May 28, so the court will make its determination after that proceeding. The public will likely never know the details about Kobe’s Trust, as trusts generally enjoy protection from private scrutiny not available when someone’s primary estate planning tool is a Will. In fact, were it not for this petition to add Capri as a beneficiary, we likely would not know that Kobe had created a Trust.
This court petition serves as a good reminder for everyone about the importance of making sure your estate planning documents still meet your needs. As your situation changes, it may be necessary to amend your Will or Trust. Whether you use a Will or a Trust, you can include provisions specifically covering “afterborn” children – children born or legally adopted after the date you sign the Will or Trust. Had Kobe included this provision in his Trust document, this court proceeding would likely have been unnecessary.
At The Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center, we help people put tailored estate plans in place, and adjust those plans over time as needed. To learn more, contact us today!