George Finn, Rose Law Group transactional attorney who also handles estate and asset protection work, explains the importance of estate planning in light of Mathew Perry’s death

By Alex Ross | People

In the wake of Matthew Perry’s heartbreaking death at the age of 54 on Oct. 28, the beloved Friends actor leaves behind a sizable estate.

Perry’s estate includes all of his assets: anything he owned, like real estate or property, and anything he had a right to receive from, including residuals from Friends.

Copyrights, trademarks, his name and likeness and royalties (like those from his 2022 memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, for example) are included as well, as are any of his investments, cash and securities. 

According to California-based estate lawyers David EsquibiasLaura Zwicker and Jonathan Forster, there are a few different ways Perry’s estate could be handled.

Below, the three experts lay out the possible options, according to the law, to PEOPLE.

What happens to Perry’s residuals? 

Perry will continue to receive residual payments from Friends even after his death, but the question now becomes who will inherit them.

“The guild and the unions allow you to list a beneficiary. It’s not the most common route, but that is certainly a route,” says Forster. “So he could have listed specific beneficiaries of his residuals with the union industry and actors guild, the different guilds, that’s one option.” 


“The recent loss of Matthew Perry at 54 highlights the importance of estate planning regardless of age. Perry’s estate, inclusive of assets like residuals from “Friends,” copyrights, trademarks, and various investments, faces questions regarding inheritance.  The ramifications of Matthew Perry’s estate planning, or lack thereof, could lead to vastly different outcomes. For instance, with a comprehensive trust, the distribution of assets remains private, contrasting sharply with a public probate court process in the absence of a will or trust. The tax implications for inheritors, whether Perry’s parents or potential disclaimed beneficiaries, can drastically vary, impacting their financial responsibilities and subsequent decisions. These divergent scenarios underline the significance of proper estate planning, which can greatly influence the ease of asset transfer and the management of tax burdens for those inheriting the estate.  Establishing an estate plan might seem daunting, but with legal guidance, most plans are easier and more manageable than one might initially anticipate.” – George Finn, Rose Law Group transactional attorney

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November 2023