Matthew Perry was raking in up to $20million per year in residuals from his role as Chandler Bing in the iconic sitcom friends.
He played the Friends character for almost 10 years and he reportedly earned $20million every year from syndication and streaming revenue.
This sum of money could be passed down to individuals he listed as beneficiaries or given to a trust he nominated, according to a financial planning expert who spoke to CNBC.
But due to the fact he did not have a spouse or children, if Perry did not name any person or organization then state law would determine what would happen to his estate and the cash would most likely go to his parents who have survived him.
Matthew Perry was raking in up to $20million per year in residuals from his role as Chandler Bing in the iconic sitcom friends
He played the Friends character for almost 10 years and he reportedly earned $20million every year from syndication and streaming revenue
The 54-year-old actor was found dead in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home on October 28 but his cause of death has not been confirmed yet
Following the death of an actor, their residual payments are considered their personal property.
In most cases, this stream of income is owned by the performer’s estate and there are three possibilities as to what happens to Perry’s residuals from Friends based California laws.
Members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists can list beneficiaries for residual payments in the case of death, according to expert financial planner Charlie Douglas.
He said Perry could have named an individual or a few people and this is similar to naming a beneficiary for accounts like a 401(k).
The Friends star could have also named a trust to receive his residual payments and it would flow to them and they would have stipulations as to who gets them.
Trusts are private matters, unlike wills which are public record, so it may never be known who inherits this stream of income.
But there is a third option: if Perry did not name a specific beneficiary that state law would determine the outcome of his estate.
‘It’s quite possible that, not having a spouse or children, he didn’t [write in] anything,’ president of HH Legacy Investments Douglas said.
There is a framework within all states to determine how the money and belongings of an individual would be distributed if they die. These are known as intestacy laws which vary across different states.
Mostly it is made up of the typical hierarchy of inheritance in order of who stands to receive assets.
A spouse is first, followed by children, grandchildren, parents and then siblings.
But Perry did not have a wife or children and he is survived by his parents who got divorced when he was a baby.
Both of them have re-married and have had more children.
His parents will likely take on his acting royalties as well as other parts of his estate which includes his 2022 memoir, according to Day Pitney trusts and estates partner Tasha Dickinson.
Jennifer Aniston (left), Courteney Cox (second left), David Schwimmer (center), Lisa Kudrow (second right) and Matt LeBlanc (far right) are seen on Friday at Matthew Perry’s funeral
Jennifer Aniston (at the back), Courteney Cox and David Schwimmer (center) and Lisa Kudrow (front) are seen on Friday at Forest Lawn Church of the Hills, in Los Angeles
Perry’s stepfather Keith Morrison, with the gray hair served as a pallbearer
However, they could make a ‘qualified disclaimer’ and give up their rights which would mean it would pass down to his half siblings.
‘It’s not unheard of at all that wealthy parents make disclaimers,’ Douglas said.
Perry’s assets would be divided up based on the probate court system otherwise.
‘Probate is especially undesirable in California because it’s expensive, time-consuming and an invasion of privacy [since] all court matters are public record,’ tax expert David Oh said.
He added that celebrities ‘not having an estate plan creates confusion, attracts unwanted media attention and can cause family dispute’.
Perry could also have decided to give away his estate to someone outside his immediate family.
The actor had many close relationships and supported several philanthropic interests ‘and it wouldn’t be surprising to see some of his wealth go towards them,’ Oh said.
Perry struggled with addiction for years and he once opened a sober living facility at his Malibu mansion.
He was also working to create a foundation to help sufferers. The Matthew Perry Foundation was established in his name on November 3.
It is sponsored and maintained by the National Philanthropic Trust.
‘When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends,’ Perry said during an interview last year.
‘And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor. … But when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people.
‘I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice.’
Perry’s co-stars were seen on Friday consoling each other outside the church where the 54-year-old was laid to rest.
Jennifer Aniston, 54; Lisa Kudrow, 60; Courteney Cox, 59; and David Schwimmer, 57, arrived as a quartet – all dressed in black suits and somber as they prepared to say their last goodbyes to Perry at Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles.
They were joined outside the church after the simple hour-long ceremony by Matt LeBlanc, 56, and were pictured in conversation with other well wishers.
His tearful mother Suzanne Morrison, 84, and Dateline journalist stepfather Keith, 76, were both at the private event, as was his father John Perry, 82. Keith Morrison was one of the pallbearers.
On Monday, Aniston and the rest of the cast – Cox, LeBlanc, Schwimmer and Kudrow – issued a statement describing their shock and sadness.
‘We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family,’ the cast said in a joint statement on Monday.
Heartfelt: Tributes were left outside Matthew Perry’s Los Angeles home, including Friends memorabilia
‘There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.
‘In time we will say more, as and when we are able.
‘For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.’
Perry’s cause of death remains unconfirmed, but initial toxicology reports found that there was no meth or fentanyl in his system when he drowned.
Throughout his life, Perry had been open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol.
The common narcotics were not found in Perry’s system during initial tests, according to a TMZ report. But more in-depth testing is underway and would show if the beloved actor had any prescription medication in his system.
When investigators responded to Perry’s home, they did not find any illegal drugs, but found prescription medication that was properly labeled and kept in storage bottles.