Matthew Perry tragically died on October 28, leaving questions behind about what happens to his estate — and his Friends millions.
Los Angeles entertainment lawyer Tre Lovell told the New York Post that in the case of a death like Perry’s, there are three options that could happen.
“There may be a trust, and that would be administered privately, through his trustee. He could have had a will — that would be administered under [probate] court supervision. If he had neither, there’s a statutory framework put in place, where there’s a listing of his heirs that would get his estate.”
Lovell added that if the third option happens, since Perry had no wife or children and his parents are still alive, “They would split his estate. His siblings would be next in line, after the parents. But, since both of his parents are living, they would get it,” he explained.
Perry — and his Friends co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — reportedly make $US20 million ($30 million) a year in residuals. The beloved NBC comedy ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004.
Perry, who struggled with addiction and sobriety for years, died of an apparent drowning in a hot tub at his home in the ritzy Pacific Palisades neighbourhood of Los Angeles.
He’s survived by a large family: his actor father, John Bennett Perry, 82, his mother Suzanne, 75, his famous stepfather, Dateline’s Keith Morrison, 76, and his five half-siblings: Caitlin, Emily, Will and Madeline Morrison (who are Suzanne’s kids with Keith) and Maria Perry (who is John Bennett Perry’s daughter with his second wife, Debbie Boyle).
Law enforcement sources told TMZ that investigators ran a less in-depth toxicology test on the actor that revealed Perry did not have fentanyl or methamphetamines in his system at the time of his death.
More tests are currently being conducted as part of the toxicology report. It can take months to establish an official cause of death, which is still “deferred.”
Perry’s friend, Athenna Crosby, 25, who was one of the last people to see the Friends star before his death — as the duo dined together just one day before the tragedy — has insisted that he did not relapse.
“I think people are speculating that this was a relapse situation. I just want to defend him and say that it was not,” she said, adding that he was “100 per cent sober” and behaving in a way that was “completely normal” during their lunch.
Lovell told The Post that if there’s a trust, that information might not be made public, because it’s private.
“I would be surprised if there wasn’t some type of estate planning. He’s a famous actor, he’s got business managers, agents, lawyers,” he said.
Regarding residuals from Friends from syndication and streaming, through SAG-AFTRA, “You can designate who it can go to,” said Lovell.
“So, that can be separate from any trust or will. So, there’s a chance he wrote in somebody [to receive that money after his death]. But we just don’t know.”
If Perry “wrote in somebody,” it could be a charity, Lovell explained.
The Canadian actor, who estimated he spent $US9 million ($13 million) through the years to get sober, eventually achieved sobriety before his death.
He also formed the Perry House in 2013 in his former Malibu abode, which was a male sober living facility that operated for two years.
On Friday, pals close to the late Friends star announced that they will establish the Matthew Perry Foundation to aid those battling substance abuse.
“The Matthew Perry Foundation is the realisation of Matthew’s enduring commitment to helping others struggling with the disease of addiction,” officials said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight.
“It will honour his legacy and be guided by his own words and experiences and driven by his passion for making a difference in as many lives as possible.”
Lovell pointed out that since “recovery was a big part of his life, there’s a lot of speculation that if he did designate anybody to receive the assets, it could be some type of charity or [addiction] recovery organisation.”
This article originally appeared in New York Post and was reproduced with permission