TV Lessons in Estate Planning: Full House

by David A. Kubikian


Season 1, Episode 3

Background: Full House made its debut on ABC on September 22, 1987 lasting 192 episodes and living immortally in syndication. It was a key part of ABC’s TGIF TV programming. The plot revolves around Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) and his three daughters who raises with the help of Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) and Uncle Joey (not a real uncle) after the death of his wife, Pam. Bonus points if you knew her name was Pam.

The Family Tree: Danny Tanner is the parent of D.J., Stephanie and Michelle Tanner. [Uncle] Jesse Kastopolis is Danny’s brother-in-law.

Fun Fact: D.J. Tanner was played by Candice Cameron who is the sister of Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) and may or may not still be married to NHL star Pavel Bure.

Estate Planning Angles:

1. Have Mercy! – As mentioned above, Danny was a single parent raising three minors. In the event that Danny kicked the can, it would be ideal for Uncle Jesse to become Guardian for the girls as well as their property. Without a Last Will & Testament there is no guarantee that he would be in that position. It is unknown if there were any other real aunts/uncles for the girls or whether grandparents would want to take that role. As you already should know, without a will, D.J., Stephanie and Michelle would be entitled to split Dad’s estate evenly. With the San Francisco real estate market as hot as it is, coupled with likely life insurance proceeds (he BETTER have life insurance), the kids would be a disaster waiting to happen with money out right at the age of 18 unless a will or trust states otherwise.

2. Cut. It. Out. – On a similar note, the only way Uncle Joey has a say in helping bring up the kids, as a non-relative, would be by being given a role in the Last Will & Testament or in a trust created by Danny during his life. Based on all 192 episodes, it surely would be Danny’s desire to have both real and fake uncles have prominent roles in the lives of the girls. Without that planning, Joey is cut out of the picture.

3. You Got it Dude – The focus of these blog entries is usually what would happen if nothing was done. What if I got my way and the best planning was in place? What would it look like? At a minimum, Danny would set up an inter-vivos (during his life) revocable trust. Danny would be the income beneficiary and upon his death, the trust would continue until the kids reach certain ages. Maybe 25% at age 21, 25% at age 25 and the balance at 30. Uncle Jesse and Uncle Joey would be co-successor trustees (replacing Danny at his death) and would have the discretion to invade the principal and pay for most of the needs of the kids, be it college, weddings, etc. They would also have the power to hold back some funds if, for example, Stephanie decided to follow the “child star guidelines” and develop a serious drug problem (cough…cough). Danny would also have a giant life insurance policy payable to the trust. Similarly, Danny’s Last Will & Testament would provide for his estate to go to the trust. Dude.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode: Diff’rent Strokes

The TV lessons in Estate Planning blog provides general information for educational (and entertainment) purposes only.  Due to the particulars of each person’s circumstances, this blog should not be considered legal advice applicable to your specific fact pattern.

2 thoughts on “TV Lessons in Estate Planning: Full House

  1. Pingback: TV Lessons in Estate Planning: Growing Pains | Herzog Herald

  2. Pingback: TV Lessons in Estate Planning: Diff’rent Strokes | Herzog Herald

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