Burt Reynolds left his niece, Nancy Lee Brown Hess, in charge of his estate rather than his son, Quinton, but there seems to be an explanation for the late actor’s wishes.
In court documents obtained by TMZ and the Blast, Reynolds intentionally excluded his son — and only child — from the will as there is a trust in place. “I intentionally omit him from this, my Last Will and Testament, as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust,” it reads. The legendary actor signed the will in October 2011.
It’s revealed in the documents that Reynolds actually created a trust years ago for his 30-year-old son. The Smokey and the Bandit actor put all of his possessions in the trust, and the money from it will continue to go to Quinton. TMZ notes this is typically done to avoid estate taxes.
It’s likely Hess was chosen as the trustee to avoid any conflict of interest that could have occurred if Quinton, who is a beneficiary of the trust, was selected as the representative of the estate. Reynolds lists his great nephew, Brian Ritchey Brown, followed by his great niece, Tracy Erin Rogers, as the next representatives were anything to happen to the previous one. Hess is clearly a trusted member of the family as she was the one who released a statement on behalf of the Reynolds family confirming the actor’s death.
“It is with a broken heart that I said goodbye to my uncle today. My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate, and sensitive man, who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students,” Hess said earlier this month. “He has had health issues, however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tailbone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was.”
The Deliverance star died on Sept. 6 after suffering a heart attack. He was 82. It’s been reported that Reynolds — who filed for bankruptcy in 1996 — had a net worth around $5 million at the time of his death.
“I’ve lost more money than is possible because I just haven’t watched it,” he told Vanity Fair in 2015. “I’ve still done well in terms of owning property and things like that. But I haven’t been somebody who’s been smart about his money. There are a couple of actors who are quite brilliant with the way they’ve handled their money. But they’re not very good actors.”
In the same profile, Reynolds denied rumors he was suffering financially again. “That pisses me off,” he explained. “That’s one of the rare things that does piss me off. I’m not bankrupt, by any means. I’m not even worried about it.”
Reynolds’s money troubles began around the time of his very public and contentious split with then-wife Loni Anderson. Quinton is the adopted son of Reynolds and Anderson. She spoke out after his death.
“Quinton and I are extremely touched by the tremendous outpouring of love and support from friends and family throughout the world,” Anderson told Fox News. “Burt was a wonderful director and actor. He was a big part of my life for 12 years and Quinton’s father for 30 years. We will miss him and his great laugh.”
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