Actress Lauren Bacall’s Will Filed for Probate

Actress Lauren Bacall died on August 12, 2014, from an apparent stroke. She was 89. Although she won two Tony awards and an honorary Oscar, Ms. Bacall was probably best known for her marriage to actor Humphrey Bogart and the movies they filmed together (my favorite – Key Largo).

Ms. Bacall was survived by her two children with Humphrey Bogart, Stephen Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Bogart, and her son with actor Jason Robards, Sam Prideaux Robards.

As a native New Yorker (Ms. Bacall was born in Brooklyn) and a resident of Manhattan at the time of her death, it’s no surprise to me that like fellow actors and New Yorkers James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ms. Bacall used a Last Will and Testament, not a Revocable Living Trust, as the governing document of her estate plan.  As we learned after Mr. Gandolfini’s death in June 2013 and Mr. Hoffman’s death in February 2014, wills are public records that anyone can read.  So as soon as Ms. Bacall’s will was filed for probate in Manhattan’s Surrogate Court on August 22, reporters snatched up a copy and revealed all of its intimate details to the world.

According to the New York Post, which reported that the will was filed for probate a mere ten days after Ms. Bacall’s death because the family wants to auction off her art work this fall, the 10-page will was signed in September 2013 and provides that the estate, estimated to be worth $26.6 million, will be distributed as follows:

  1. The sum of $10,000 is left to son Sam to care for the actress’ beloved dog, Sophie.
  2. The sum of $250,000 is left to each of Ms. Bacall’s grandsons, Calvin Robards and Justin Robards, with the request that they use the funds for their education.  They will receive the balance at age 30.
  3. Employee Ilsa Hernandez is left $15,000.
  4. Employee Maria Santos is left $20,000.
  5. The balance of her estate, consisting of her $9 million apartment at The Dakota on Central Park West (where Beatle John Lennon lived and died), her interest in a trust created for her benefit by Humphrey Bogart, cash, personal effects, and rights to her likeness and movie and book royalties, is left equally to her three children with one caveat.  The will states the following:  “I request that my children respect my wish to keep private certain personal letters, writings, diaries and other papers or memorabilia.”
  6. The three children are named as co-executors of the estate.

So there you have it, all of the intimate details of actress Lauren Bacall’s final wishes.  If you don’t want all of the intimate details of your final wishes available for the whole world to read, then do what actors Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Walker did – create and fund a revocable living trust.

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