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Navigating Unique Estate Planning Needs: Actors and the Jackie Coogan Law
If a manufacturing company employed a small child, the executives might go to prison. An entertainment company could make that same child a celebrity, a star, a millionaire. So, in the area of estate planning, actors, voice actors, models, and their families present some distinct challenges.
At Beach Cities Estate Law, we frequently safeguard the financial futures of those who captivate audiences―from child actors to Grammy-winning performers. Let’s dive into the unique estate planning needs of child actors and, specifically, their parents, beginning with the landmark Jackie Coogan Law.
Understanding the Jackie Coogan Law: A Cautionary Tale
The 1939 “California Child Actor’s Bill,” known commonly as the “Jackie Coogan Law” is a testament to the vulnerability of children working in the entertainment industry.
This law acts as a safeguard against the mismanagement of a child’s earnings by their parents or guardians. It is named after the famed child actor Jackie Coogan, who starred in Charlie Chaplin’s famed “The Kid” movie, and later in “Our Gang” and “The Little Rascals” series and other programs. (Our favorite Coogan role was years later as Uncle Fester on television’s “The Addams Family.”)
Coogan had earned roughly $50 million (in 2021 dollars), but when he turned 21, he learned that his rapacious mother and stepfather had squandered his earnings on their lavish lifestyle.
California’s Coogan Law requires employers to place 15% of a child actor’s earnings in an interest-earning account, inaccessible until they reach adulthood. This is to prevent the exploitation of young talent, ensuring that at least a portion of their hard-earned money is preserved for their future benefit.
Our Role in Coogan Account Management
At Beach Cities Estate Law, we had the privilege of working “extremely closely” with the two adorable child actors who portrayed Davey Belleville on the “Gilmore Girls.” (OK, full disclosure, we actually birthed those two little celebrities).
Consequently, we have significant firsthand experience in navigating the complexities of the Coogan Law. Our estate planning law firm takes pride in helping parents in the meticulous management of Coogan accounts, ensuring compliance with the law, and safeguarding the financial interests of the next generation of performers.
Expanding Our Reach: Representing Diverse Entertainers
We have represented entertainers (large and small) across various media platforms, from Grammy-winning singers and composers of holiday classics to superstar actors and soap opera stars. Our commitment to tailoring estate plans to each client’s unique needs and circumstances remains unwavering.
Key Considerations for Actor Estate Planning
Actors often have diverse income streams, including royalties, residuals, and endorsement deals. Tailoring an estate plan to accommodate these sources is crucial for sustained financial security.
Protecting intellectual property rights, especially for prolific actors, involves strategic planning to ensure the continued benefit of their creative legacy.
Actors frequently face privacy challenges, making it important to structure estate plans to minimize public scrutiny while maximizing asset protection.
Crafting a comprehensive succession plan is vital for actors and their families, addressing the unique challenges of passing on both tangible and intangible assets.
Safeguarding the Legacy of Entertainment Icons
As dedicated estate planning professionals, we recognize the responsibility of safeguarding the legacies of entertainment icons. Whether you are a seasoned performer or the parent of a budding child actor, voice actor, or model, our firm is here to provide tailored solutions that align with your unique needs and aspirations. Contact us today to start securing a legacy that transcends the spotlight.
Please fill out our online form or call 424.336.1579 to arrange a meeting with Angela or arrange a complimentary Discovery Call. Your family’s security is worth the effort, and Beach Cities Estate Law is here to help you navigate the complexities of estate planning with confidence. We assist individuals and families across southern California, especially the Beach Cities communities of El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, and our office in Torrance.
We look forward to working with you!