How good is your Estate Plan – Betty White

By AnnMichelle G. Hart, Esq.
January 19, 2022 

The world is still mourning the great lady Betty White who would have turned 100 this month. Her humor and her interest in animal welfare are legendary. Astounding as her life is, the estate plan she drew up with husband Allen Ludden in 1979 was equally astounding – it only needed two minor changes in 43 years! 

When she and Ludden crafted their Estate Plan Ludden put half of his estate was in trust for White, while the other half was put in trust for his brother Frank, and Ludden’s three children from a prior marriage. (He and White did not have any children together.) Ludden also gave White all of his personal belongings, and his cars. The couple named White and a gentleman named Norton Brown as co-trustees of Ludden’s Estate.

In 1980 Ludden made an addition to his Will – Ludden also gave White his retirement accounts, and the interest in their Los Angeles home – neither asset was addressed in the original Will. 

I did a little research and it appears Mr. Norton passed away in 2007 or 2008. That would have left then-86-year-old White as sole trustee of the Trusts. White petitioned the Court to allow her to make a change to Ludden’s Will. In full agreement with the children, White asked the Court to approve her request to add two successor trustees to the Trust in case something happened to her.
You can have an Estate Plan as solid as Betty White’s – and you may only have to entertain changes to your plan if taxes or probate laws change. It takes carefully looking at possible contingencies and making sure the final plan will address them all. 

If you are in Washington and would like a 50-point review of your plan, call me Ann Hart, HartLaw PLLC – Your attorney with heart.