Do What Kobe Bryant Didn’t Do - Update Your Trust PLEASE!

Bad things happen when you don’t tell your estate planning attorney everything.

Even worse things happen when you do NOT have an estate planning attorney. Get one!

An estate planning attorney's job depends on knowing and understanding your life so they can guide you through creating an effective plan.

Kobe Bryant was an amazing person, who won five NBA championships, and was an 18-time All-Star, spent his entire 20-season career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

As an LA native with a grandfather who loved the Lakers I watched all the Lakers games with him (and he LOVED Kobe).

Estimated to be worth $600 million dollars, Kobe obviously had an estate planning attorney because he created a trust to support his wife and their child in 2003. The trust had been amended several times most recently in 2017, with the birth of his third daughter Bianka.

Here is where the issue lies. Kobe and Vanessa had a daughter (Capri) 7 months before Kobe tragically passed away.

At the time of her birth, Capri was the youngest of 4 children. Natalia, 16, Bianka, 2, and Gianna, 13, who passed away with her dad in a helicopter crash with seven others.

It seems to me Kobe knew he needed to update the trust after the birth of his most recent child because he had amended it several times before. All too often people believe they have more time to get around to updating their documents and they forget. Obviously, Vanessa and or her legal team realize the huge issue this unintended consequence could have on Capri's life so Vanessa and the other co-trustee have petitioned the probate court asking the judge to modify the trust to fully capture Kobe's intent which was to support ALL his children (even those born after the document was signed).

Before the news of Vanessa's petition regarding the trust broke, I suspected that Kobe and his attorneys had done everything right because we hadn’t heard about his family needing to go to the probate court for ANYTHING (meaning he didn't die without a will, and there wasn't a need to probate a will, BECAUSE EVERYTHING WAS IN TRUST and trust allow PRIVACY).

But now it seems his wife had to open a case to protect Capri since she is not mentioned in the trust and Capri AND her descendants stand to miss out on a 1/3 share of the trust estate currently valued at least 600 million. That's about $200 million dollars, all because she was not added to the trust!

My hope is that when you read this story it makes you think about the importance of updating your trust and other estate plan documents after you have a significant life change (IMMEDIATELY). I know some attorney's charge a lot of money for amendments but pay the money if they are doing a good job. If you suspect they aren't doing a good job, have your trust reviewed by another attorney (it's worth the money).

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Making these changes before you are gone is CRITICAL to helping your family avoid the hassle of filing a court petition to correct any issues. Vanessa is paying several lawyers, paying court fees, guardian ad litems had to be appointed for his children and their potential children to ensure their interests were protected and now everyone has to deal with a firestorm of media reporting on this issue due to one oversight.

It's worth mentioning that the co-trustees could not modify this trust without the Courts because only the Trustor/Grantor or a Court can amend a trust if the trust doesn't explicitly state otherwise.

😫 Since we don’t know when we will leave this earth...update your documents ASAP!


While I suspect that Vanessa will have no problem getting approval for the amendment she seeks, based on the short period of time and the fact the trust was intended to care for Kobe and Vanessa's children, having to go to court in the first place eliminates the privacy she would have had to manage the trust as a co-trustee and receive her benefits as a beneficiary in peace. 😔 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If she isn’t able to get the trust amendment approved Capri AND any of her subsequent children will not inherit from this trust. That affects several generations on Capri’s family tree.

There are ways around this. Vanessa can choose to create her own Trust with any assets she owns and transfer them to Capri on her death and the other two children can do the same with their inheritance before they pass away.

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Stuff like this happens all the time (but it is preventable)!

It happens so much I created a book called, Controlling Your Legacy which is a collection of all the unbelievable stories I want my clients to know so they can avoid doing the same thing.

With that said, have you updated your estate plan lately? Or better yet, have you created an estate plan yet?? If not DO IT NOW!! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Schedule a consultation with me today and check it off your list of things to do!

Jala Eaton, Esq, CTFA is an estate planning attorney, fiduciary, and financial advisor with a mission to help business owners and families build and protect their assets through investing and estate planning. The racial wealth gap is the problem and Generational wealth is the goal and the solution. When not advising her clients or talking about money on Instagram she likes to attend concerts and the private dance parties her daughter holds in their living room.

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Legal disclaimer: Jala Eaton is a California attorney. As such, her posts, courses, and post responses to posted inquiries, such as the ones above, are limited to her understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which she practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal, financial, or investment advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship. On My Own Financial and On My Own Academy is not an investment firm and does not offer investment advice. 

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