The initial shock of Robin Williams’ tragic death, from an apparent suicide, is giving way to reflections of his legacy and memory. Another question many people are asking is what happens next for his family. He was survived by his third wife, Susan Schneider, to whom he was married for three years, and three adult children from his prior two marriages, whose ages range from 25 to 31. There is a realistic fear that Williams’ death left may have left them in financial distress.
In an interview with Parade Magazine last year, Williams lamented how he had to change his lifestyle because of how much he lost in his two divorces (reportedly, $30 million). He said he returned to TV because of “bills to pay.” Williams also admitted to listing his Napa Valley estate for sale because he could no longer afford it.
Public records about Williams’ real estate show that they have significant value. His Napa Valley mansion, which rests on 653 acres and is named Villa Sorriso (translated to the Villa of Smiles), has been on the market since April for $29.9 million. Williams also left behind a 6,500-square-foot waterfront home in Tiburon, California, valued at roughly $6 million. The two properties are subject to mortgages, according to public records, that totaled $7.25 million as of 2011. This means that Williams left behind real estate with equity of around $25 million, depending on what Villa Sorriso can command in a sale.
How much more than that did Williams leave behind for his heirs? While he was reportedly worth around $130 million two years ago, that figure seems well off since Williams later said that he was close to bankruptcy. Recent estimates have pegged his net worth at $50 million, which may also be high based on his reported financial struggles.
Any estimate of his net worth before he passed away would only be part of the financial picture. Lifetime estimates would not factor in the death benefit from life insurance, which could be substantial — especially considering that high wage earners are often required to take out insurance policies to protect their families as part of divorce settlements.
The good news for his family is that Williams appears to have some solid estate planning documents, including at least two different trusts. Both of his valuable pieces of real estate are held in the name of the “Domus Dulcis Domus Holding Trust.” This is a latin phrase meaning “home sweet home.” He set up this Trust to own his real estate, tabbing Hollywood producer and entertainment promoter Stephen Tenenbaum and New York accountant Joel Faden as the trustees.
Additionally, TMZ reported that someone had leaked a copy of a different trust, which Robin Williams created in 2009. This was in the midst of Williams’ divorce from his second wife, Marsha Garces. The trust reportedly names Williams’ three children as beneficiaries, splitting their trust funds into three equal distributions for each of them, set to pay out when they reach ages 21, 25, and 30. Because this trust reportedly transfers the money to them whether Williams was alive or passed, this was likely established as part of his divorce rather than purely for estate planning. It is not known how much money was in this trust.