Paul Newman's Last Will and Testament

Last will and testament
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Paul Newman, born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in 1925, was one of Hollywood's best-known actors, starring in over 60 movies and winning an Oscar for his role as Fast Eddie Felson in the 1986 movie, The Color of Money. But not only was Newman a well-known actor, he was also a director, race car driver, auto racing team owner, and philanthropist, co-founding Newman's Own, a food product line which donates all after-tax earnings to charity.

Family Background

Paul Newman married his first, wife, Jackie Witte, in 1949, and they had three children, Susan Kendall, Stephanie, and Scott. Newman divorced Witt in 1957 and married his second wife, actress Joanne Woodward, in 1958. They had three daughters, Elinor "Nell" Teresa, Melissa "Lissy" Stewart, and Claire "Clea" Olivia. Son Scott died in 1978 of a drug overdose, and Newman and Woodward were still married at the time of Newman's death from lung cancer on September 26, 2008. The value of the late actor's estate was estimated to be worth over $600 million.

Summary of the Contents of Paul Newman's Will and First Codicil

Paul Newman, also known as Paul L. Newman, signed his Last Will and Testament Westport, Connecticut, on April 11, 2008, and then signed a short First Codicil to the will on July 24, 2008. The witnesses to the will were named Carolyn Murphy of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Charles T. Wright of West Hartford, Connecticut, and the Notary Public was named Judith M. Keppleman, and the witnesses to the codicil were named Cora Casem of Queens, New York, and Myriam Babel of Monroe, New York, with Keppleman again acting as the Notary Public.

A complete review of the 15-page will and 3-page codicil revealed the following:

  1. The executors were directed to sell all airplanes and race cars Newman owned at the time of his death and the sale proceeds were to be added to the residuary estate as discussed in more detail below.
  2. All Oscars and other theatrical awards were bequeathed to Newman's Own Foundation. This included the best-actor Oscar mentioned above, two honorary Oscars, three Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild award.
  3. All other tangible personal property, including household furnishings, art, personal effects and other automobiles, were bequeathed to wife Joanne.
  1. If wife Joanne had predeceased Newman, then any promissory notes payable to him from any of his daughters or Cora Casem (one of the witnesses to the codicil as mentioned above) would have been bequeathed to each debtor.
  2. All of Newman's interests in companies named Coleytown Productions, Inc., Aspetuck Productions, Ltd. and Newman Foreman Productions, Inc., as well as any other entity that receives royalties, profit participations or residuals representing payment for his services rendered as an actor, plus any other right to receive royalties, profit participation or residuals representing payment for his services rendered as an actor, were bequeathed to the trustees of the Amended and Restated Newman Living Trust Number One, to be held and administered in Marital Trust B for the benefit of wife Joanne. In addition, Newman directed that the executors would have no rights to sell any of these property interests.
  1. All publicity and intellectual property rights, all of Newman's interests in Newman's Own, Inc., Salid King, Inc., and No Limit, LLC, were bequeathed to Newman's Own Foundation.
  2. The April 2008 will left all real estate wherever situated to wife Joanne, but the July 2008 codicil revoked this section of the will and replaced it with a section titled "Westport Residential Real Estate" which left only real estate located in Westport, Connecticut, to Joanne.
  3. Newman's residuary estate was left to the trustees of the Amended and Restated Newman Living Trust Number One.
  1. Newman appointed Brian Murphy, an accountant and celebrity business manager from Manhattan Beach, California, Robert H. Forrester, an executive with Newman's Own Foundation from Avon, Connecticut, and an individual selected by majority vote of his daughters (excluding themselves) to serve as Co-Executors of the estate.
  2. The will gives the Co-Executors special powers with regard to Newman's publicity and intellectual property rights such that they are to take any reasonable measures to manage, control and protect these rights, including appointing one or more advisors for the purpose of conserving and protecting these rights.

    What the Amended and Restated Newman Living Trust Number One Says

    So what does the Amended and Restated Newman Living Trust Number One say? A search of the internet did not reveal a copy of this trust agreement for me to review or even a summary of its contents, which means that, at least to date, the trust agreement has remained a private document that only the beneficiaries and trustees have been entitled to see.

    In other words, even though Paul Newman's will was very specific about what was to happen to his tangible assets, corporate interests, and intellectual property rights, the will was a pour-over will that did not reveal any details about what was to happen to Newman's intangible assets including cash, stocks, bonds and other investments, and his real estate other than his Westport, Connecticut property.

    Instead, the trust, which is a revocable living trust that became irrevocable when Newman died, dictates what happens to these assets, and so we will probably never know what the trust says since it is a private document. In contrast, a last will and testament become a public court record that anyone can read, which is what happened with Paul Newman's will when it was filed for probate in Fairfield County, CT, in November 2008.

    With that said, there is one thing we do know about Paul Newman's trust - it included AB Trust planning since the will bequeaths certain assets to the "Marital Trust B" for the benefit of Newman's wife Joanne. In 2008 the federal and Connecticut estate tax exemptions were both $2,000,000, so this planning was done to delay the payment of both federal and Connecticut estate taxes until after Joanne's death.