Stephen Bing, American businessman and grandson of wealthy New York business developer, Leo S. Bing, sadly took his own life in June 2020. The turmoil involved after his sudden death for his family due to Stephen’s Estate Planning, and especially in relation to his children, was unforeseen.
Stephen fathered two children from two past relationships, being Damian Hurley born to British actress and model, Elizabeth Hurley, and Kira Bonder to tennis pro, Lisa Bonder.
After inheriting an estimated $600m from his late grandfather’s Estate when he was just 18 years of age, Stephen’s worth slowly dwindled to an estimated $300,000.00 at the time of his death. The Bing Family Trust however, with Stephen, his father Peter Bing and his sister Mary Bing as beneficiaries, was worth $1b at the time of Stephen’s death.
Stephen had drafted a Will back in 2001, before he knew of Kira’s birth and while Liz Hurley was pregnant with Damian, which expressed the wish for none of his offspring to inherit any of his Estate. As Stephen’s relationship with Damian and Kira later developed, Stephen’s intentions changed.
Stephen won an ugly court case against his father after Peter had tried to cut Stephen’s children out of the family trust on the basis that they were born out of wedlock, meaning the family’s wealth would pass to Mary’s children upon Stephen and Mary’s deaths.
After Stephen’s death, however, a recent UK court case has seen the previous ruling appealed and overturned, cutting Damian and Kira from the family trust and subsequently from any inheritance in their late father’s Estate. As the Bing Family Trust Deed did not define the word ‘child’, the court’s decision was solely based on Stephen’s intentions within his Estate Planning.
As Stephen had not updated his Estate Planning to reflect his change in intention with his children and his recent court case win over his father for his children to be included in the family trust, the court ruled in favour of removing Damian and Kira as beneficiaries of the family’s wealth.
This case shows just how drastically somebody’s Estate Planning can be flipped on its head when an Estate is contested. To avoid such a situation, it is paramount to have your Estate Planning up to date, reflecting your true intentions and drafted professionally to compliment your current circumstances so that your assets and those you love are protected as much as possible.
In Stephen’s case, if his Estate Planning had been up to date to include his children as his beneficiaries and also complimented the family trust correctly, from which his Estate would have derived, the turmoil faced by his children after his death may well have been avoided.
To discuss any Estate Planning or Estate queries you may have, please contact our Estate Planning Department on 02 4626 5077 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.