Our national news media loves headlines like “Ryan O’Neal Left out of Farrah Fawcett’s Will”, leaving the reader with the impression there was something wrong with their relationship. “How could she?” The simple answer is that she (and they) had a good estate planning attorney. Ryan O’Neal has told the press he was with her when she signed and is totally fine with it.
Here is the deal, Ryan O’Neal undoubtedly has a taxable estate with out including Farrah Fawcett’s wealth. Therefore, every dollar of Farrah’s money he receives will cost his estate about 55 cents when he dies. In other words over half of every cent he inherits from her would go for federal estate taxes. That does not make any sense and is one reason why (at least I am assuming why) her estate plan calls for this.
Of course there is much to Farrah Fawcett’s estate plan that we simply do not know. There are family considerations – especially with their blended families, estate tax considerations, generation skipping tax considerations and the personal desires of the individual that go into any estate planning. The point is that Farrah Fawcett decision to leave Ryan O’Neal out of her will is not, by itself, meaningful and should not be interpreted as evidence there were problems in their relationship. It is what I would have anticipated.