Kobe Bryant Passed Without Adding His Youngest Child to His Estate

Gold Leaf Estate Planning, LLC

POSTED ON: September 29, 2020


The tragedy of the helicopter crash which caused the death of NBA star, Kobe Bryant, sent shockwaves around the world. No one could have anticipated that he would pass away at such a young age when in perfectly good health. Why would anyone need to be thinking about estate planning now when you will have time to do it later? Unfortunately, the mentality that there is always tomorrow was one that Kobe and his legal team also had, and his untimely passing resulted in his family having to deal with one major flaw in his estate plan. While Kobe’s first three daughters were included as beneficiaries for his estate, his youngest daughter, who was only seven months old at the time of his death, had not yet been added to his estate plan.

With a net worth upwards of $600 million, Kobe was one of the richest athletes in the world, and luckily, he did have an estate plan which was established in 2003, after the birth of his first daughter, and was updated consistently after each child, the last update occurring in 2017, at the birth of his third daughter. His wife, Vanessa Bryant, filed a petition in March, asking the probate judge to modify her husband’s trust to include their youngest daughter, Capri. As it stood, in the case of Vanessa’s death, Kobe’s estate would be divided equally between the older sisters, but would not extend to Capri. The petition states that “this was not Kobe’s intent. Nor does it accomplish the primary and material purpose of the trust – to provide for Vanessa and all his children with Vanessa after his death.” Although this seems straightforward, it becomes somewhat complicated to modify someone’s trust after they have passed away. For the daughters listed as beneficiaries, this impacts any children they may have in the future, which means that if Capri was not listed, this mistake could affect the next few generations of her family. As such, guardians ad litem must be appointed to represent the interests of the unborn and unascertained beneficiaries. All of the court costs associated with this trust modification could have easily been avoided with a simple amendment to Kobe’s trust after his last daughter was born.

This situation proves that when it comes to estate planning, there is no time to waste. Do you have an estate plan in place?  If yes, have you updated your estate plan recently? It is important to remember that estate planning is an ongoing process; as changes are made to your family structure, changes should also be made to your estate plan. Be sure to make updates immediately after a birth, death, marriage, or divorce occurs in your family. Perhaps you have not even created an estate plan yet. It is not just for the rich and famous – estate planning is essential for everyone, regardless of age, health, or income. You may not think that it’s something you need to worry about right now, but it is important that you have all of your affairs in order in the case of an accident. By establishing a thorough estate plan, you have control over who will receive your assets, rather than letting the court decide, and you could end up saving your family a great deal of stress and complications.

In order to avoid these unfortunate situations, it’s imperative that you take action now. We have the tools you need to put your estate plan into place so that procrastination is not an issue. Contact our office today if you would like to discuss creating or updating an estate plan that protects your assets for your whole family. Click here to schedule an appointment today or call our office at (952) 658-6503.


Zach Wiegand is a Minnesota probate attorney and estate planning attorney and the owner of Gold Leaf Estate Planning, LLC. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is an estate planning law firm that also handles probate and trust administration in Minnesota. We serve the Twin Cities metropolitan area with a focus on estate planning for clients in Burnsville, Eagan, Savage, Prior Lake, Lakeville, Apple Valley, Eden Prairie, Farmington, Rosemount, and the South Metro as well as clients in Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Maplewood, Oakdale, St. Paul and the East Metro. Our firm has offices in both Burnsville and Woodbury (Lake Elmo). The firm also handles probate in Dakota County, Washington County, Scott County, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County and most other counties in the Twin Cities Metro area. Zach has been named a Super Lawyer – Rising Star for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. In addition, Zach is a member of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, the Twin Cities Estate Planning Council, and WealthCounsel – a national organization of estate planning attorneys dedicated to practice excellence. You can contact Zach via e-mail at zach@goldleafestateplan.com or by calling (952) 658-6503. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is located in Burnsville at 3000 County Road 42 W., Suite 310, Burnsville, MN 55337 and in Woodbury/Lake Elmo at 8653 Eagle Point Boulevard, Lake Elmo, MN 55042.