Liz Hurley’s Rich Son | Damian Hurley’s Inheritance
- July 29, 2019 - Celebrity Estate Battles,
Estate taxes can easily eat up large percentages of a person’s assets, which is why the strategy of creating an irrevocable trust to transfer wealth from one generation to another is often a good idea. Here at Hackard Law, we often recommend the establishment of irrevocable trusts when we think it will be to the long-term benefit of our clients.
But like all such estate planning tools, there are pluses and minuses. Consider the case of Dr. Peter Bing, a doctor and philanthropist in Los Angeles who inherited a fortune from his father, Leo Bing, a hugely successful New York City real estate developer in the 1920s. By some accounts, Peter inherited a billion dollars from his father, and Peter’s son, Stephen, inherited $600 Million when he turned 18 years old in 1983.
Peter Bing surely had in mind the preservation of his inherited wealth when he established an irrevocable family trust in 1980 that transferred assets from his personal fortune to the benefit of his yet unborn grandchildren. In that document, he states that any grandchild must be “raised by my children as part of their families” and that the trust “would not benefit any person brought out of wedlock unless that person had lived for a substantial period of time as a regular member of the household.”
This might have been a completely academic clause in an otherwise boilerplate document, except that 21 years later Dr. Bing’s son Steve had a brief relationship with the actress Liz Hurley, the result of which was that Liz gave birth to a son, Damian. Steve Bing also had a second child born out of wedlock, Kira Kerkorian, whose mother was the pro tennis player Lisa Bonder. Though Bonder was briefly married to the billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, Steve Bing proved to be the actual father of Kira.
It was Kira Kerkorian, four years older than Damian, who first raised the issue of being a beneficiary of her grandfather’s trust. Once she claimed a portion of that trust, Damian followed with his own demand.
From the very start, Peter Bing tried his best to bar both his biological grandchildren from receiving any portion of his trust because he “never met” them. In his words: “Regardless of whether, when and if Stephen met with or had any relationship with Damian or Kira while they are or were minor because neither was raised by him during their formative years l do not consider them my grandchildren.”
A judge in Los Angeles disagreed. Last week it was the ruling of a Court that both Damian and Kira are rightful heirs, and are therefore entitled to access the family trust.
None of us can predict the future, so when it comes to creating irrevocable trusts, as this case clearly shows, it is important that the language be highly specific to the wishes of the trust maker. If Dr. Bing wanted to make sure that any grandchildren born out of wedlock were excluded, his lawyers could certainly have crafted more precise language. Most likely, back in 1980, the scenario that eventually played out never occurred to him or them.
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