Wendy & Jen Wreck the Movies: Addams Family Values, or “The Nanny Tried to Do It”

August 18, 2022 | Jennifer F. Hillman | Wendy Hoey Sheinberg | Trusts & Estates

What happened:

Fester Addams, a wealthy bachelor, wants nothing more than to find a great love like that between his older brother Gomez and his wife Morticia, but he is too trusting and easily mislead. Following the birth of Gomez and Morticia’s third child, Pubert, they hire a nanny named Debbie. Fester quickly becomes smitten with Debbie, but his niece, Wednesday, wise beyond her years, quickly realizes that Debbie is only interested in Fester’s money and confronts her. In retaliation, Debbie convinces everyone to send Wednesday and Pugsley away to summer camp.

With the kids out of the way, Debbie and Fester are quickly engaged and married. Once Debbie has cemented the relationship, she isolates Fester from his family and sets out to spend as much of Fester’s money as possible before murdering him. After three of Debbie’s failed attempts, Fester finally wises up.

Fester flees to the Addams Family mansion and his family. Debbie invades the mansion and tries to murder the whole family, but baby Pubert saves the day by electrocuting her. Soon thereafter, Fester finds true love when he meets a woman named Dementia, and they live oddly ever after.

What Should Have Happened:

Grandmama Eudora Addams, founder of Eudora’s Essential Skincare, has made a fortune selling high-end skincare products for the exceptionally pale. Represented by Rivkin Radler corporate attorney Kate Heptig, Eudora has just acquired an EU-based skincare company. While toasting the acquisition, Eudora asks Kate if she knows a lawyer who does wills. “I know the best lawyers that do wills. Let me introduce you to my partners, Wendy and Jen, you will love them. Wendy is exceptionally pale, and Jen is a murder podcast aficionado – you will be like three peas in a pod.”

Eudora tells Wendy and Jen that she has two adult children. There’s Gomez, who is married to Morticia. Morticia (“Tish”) is the daughter of Mama Frump, the founder of Granny Frump’s Exotic Fro-Yo. Gomez and Tish run and own a successful conglomerate holding company and have three children: Pugsley, Wednesday and Pubert. Eudora’s other son, Fester, is single and a lovely person, but he has issues with executive function and is as trusting as a child. Fester lived with her well into his adulthood, and then moved in with Gomez and Tish after their first child was born. Fester has never lived on his own. He does not know how to cook, clean, or manage money, but he drives and manage most other aspects of his life.

After Pubert was born, Gomez and Tish hired a nanny, Debbie, who has been showing an unusual interest in Fester. Eudora does not want to upset Fester, but she is deeply concerned that Debbie’s interest is not genuine. While Eudora is concerned about safeguarding Fester’s ultimate inheritance, she is more concerned that Debbie will break Fester’s heart and destroy all of the self-confidence he worked so hard to develop.

Wendy and Jen identify several areas that Eudora should consider addressing including:

  1. Gifting assets to reduce her federal and state estate tax liability;
  2. Generation skipping to avoid increasing Gomez’s estate tax liability;
  3. Creating a protective trust for Fester, to make sure a trustworthy person will manage the assets Eudora gifts/leaves to Fester, while protecting him from creditors and predators (as an added bonus, this might also reduce Fester’s exposure if he marries without a prenuptial agreement); and
  4. Protective trusts for grandchildren to manage their assets until they are financially mature.

Wendy and Jen explain that the goal would be to treat each of Eudora’s children equally while addressing their individual circumstances.

Eudora exclaims: “Yes! Those are the exact things I am worried about!! What do I do next?” Wendy and Jen present Eudora with a detailed engagement agreement which specifies the services to be provided and the fee structure for those services.

Eudora creates lifetime gifting trusts, which allow her to use her annual gift tax exemption and her annual exclusion for generation-skipping transfers to her grandchildren and more remote descendants, which excludes these gifted assets from estate taxes.

Eudora also creates a revocable trust that becomes irrevocable on her death. Eudora’s revocable trust creates additional generation-skipping trusts that bypass Fester and Gomez’s estates but can be used for their benefit. The trusts designate Granny Frump as the independent trustee of the trusts, with each son acting a co-trustee without the power to make distributions. Cousin It is designated as the successor trustee to Granny Frump, with Thing as the successor to Cousin It. The trust has provisions that protect the assets if a grandchild is under the age of 45 when their parent dies.

When Debbie finds out that Fester’s inheritance bypasses his spouse, she loses interest and refocuses herself on being a good nanny. Fester meets Demy, a lovely woman who shares many of his interests and has worked for Cousin It for years.

Demy encourages Fester to get more involved with the business of Eudora’s Essential Skincare. Fester develops a line of vitamin D supplements that mimic the body’s exposure to the sun’s rays so the exceptionally pale don’t need to go outside in their large floppy hats and sun protective gear. Fester and Demy feature prominently in the ad campaign entitled “Let the Sun Shine – But Not on Me!” Wendy is their very first customer.

It is especially important to work with a knowledgeable trusts and estates attorney when planning for vulnerable family members and family members with taxable estates.

Save the drama for the movies.

Share this article:

Related Publications

Get legal updates and news delivered to your inbox