Carrie Fisher’s daughter may find that the biggest part of her inheritance is from an insurance policy and not a lifetime of earnings of two major Hollywood icons.
Even in the absence of a will, Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd is likely to inherit the estates of both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, as reported in TrustAdvisor’s recent article, “Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Dynastic Deaths Give Offspring Legacies and Millions to Inherit Overnight.” This clear line of succession should not be used as a reason to fail to do estate planning or to forgo having a will created.
Billie is almost certainly Carrie’s primary heir, and the value of her mom’s estate is increasing: the market price of everything associated with the Star Wars princess has tripled after her death. This is similar to what happened with other creative people and “collectible” celebrities like Prince and David Bowie.
Carrie owned a $14 million Los Angeles property filled with memorabilia, so whatever the family doesn’t want as a keepsake might bring big money in an auction. But she didn’t cash in on her Star Wars merchandising rights the way many stars do. She signed her Princess Leia image away to Lucasfilm at the beginning of the series. As a result, Disney owns it now for use in CGI “appearances” like the recent $440 million Rogue One. If they make money by putting that likeness on merchandise, it will keep the character “alive” well after her death. In essence, Disney wouldn’t be obligated to her estate for anything more than a gratuity for redubbing a few lines.
But Disney and Lucasfilm wanted a more mature Princess Leia for future films, and Carrie reportedly received several million to appear in the last one. Disney also had a $50 million life insurance policy to protect itself from having to rewrite the story around a dead star.
Counting Carrie’s house and the pay from the recent movie, it’s estimated that she might have left $25 million in assets. She also owns 0.0025% of the profit on the original Star Wars, which means that for every $1 million a year it grosses from here on out, her estate receives $200 a month in perpetuity. That quarter point may have already earned her $9 million on the film in her lifetime.
Both Fisher and Reynolds are described as “old Hollywood royalty,” where they earned a good living but not megabucks. Billie made a cameo appearance in The Force Awakens (2015) and this third generation actress has a few advantages, financial and creative, working in her favor.
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Reference: TrustAdvisor (January 3, 2017) “Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Dynastic Deaths Give Offspring Legacies and Millions to Inherit Overnight”