Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

SELLING LUCASFILM SAID TO BE SOLID ESTATE PLANNING MOVE FOR FILMMAKER

When Disney announced its purchase of LucasFilm, there seemed to be mixed reviews across the nation, including many from loyal Star Wars fans here in Texas.

Many saw George Lucas’ sale as a cash-out on an industry that hadn’t even reached its peak yet; while others, mostly financial experts, saw Lucas’ decision as “an estate-planning move worthy of a Jedi Master.”

The $4.05 billion buyout came at the perfect time for the Lucas family, said many reporters, who pointed out that none of the three adopted children in the family have any plans of taking over the family business. By cashing out now, experts say the filmmaker has made it easier for his family to distribute his estate in the future.

Because a majority of his fortune was tied up in stock in the Star Wars franchise, some financial experts said that it would be a long and difficult process of managing the inheritance if the 68-year-old filmmaker were to unexpectedly pass away.

For several years now, Lucas has been involved in charitable endeavors such as Edutopia and the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Having the headache of estate-planning out of the way now gives him time to focus the remaining years on his various philanthropy projects.

Though Lucas’ situation may make estate-planning look simple, this type of planning may be more complicated for smaller mom-and-pop businesses, points out one financial advisor in Dallas. “They may have to bring on a junior partner or work out a royalty arrangement with a new buyer,” he says. After all, he jokes, not every company has the luxury of being bought out by a Fortune 500 company when it comes time to sell.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “George Lucas’s Jedi estate planning,” Quentin Fottrell, Nov. 1, 2012

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