Director Mike Nichols Did It Right

When acclaimed movie director Mike Nichols died recently, a headline in the New York Daily News said that he “left his estate to his widow, Diane Sawyer, and his three adult children.”

The story went on to say that his $20 million estate was split between Sawyer and his three children, “according to estate papers.”

It quoted from his will that he left his “tangible personal property” to Sawyer. However, that applies only to such items as jewelry, art and furniture, says a later story on

In all likelihood, the later story says, he had a revocable living trust so that his wishes were shielded from the public. So, it says, the public does not know how he split his assets, aside from the tangible personal property. We do not know whether he split his assets between his wife and children, or left them all to his wife, or all to his children, or all to charity.

Thus, the latter story says, you cannot believe everything you read. The original story in the Daily News only gave part of the picture.

The moral of the entire story is to use a revocable living trust, as Nichols apparently did, to avoid probate and provide a privacy advantage.

If you have estate planning questions, feel free to call us at (626) 696-3145.

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