The Not-So-Simple Estate Plan of Breaking Bad’s Walter White

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Trisha Farrow

On September 29, 2013, over ten million people viewed the series finale of AMC’s Emmy Award winning hit, Breaking Bad.1 The series followed Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher in New Mexico, and his family.2 When Walter is diagnosed with stage III lung cancer and is given less than two years to live, his desire to provide for his family after his death drives him to use his chemistry background to produce methamphetamine. By the end of the series he and his partner, Jesse Pinkman, are the largest methamphetamine producers in the southwestern United States. In the series finale, both the cancer and the police are closing in on Walter, and he is struggling to find a way to leave his methamphetamine fortune to his family without having it confiscated. Left with no other option, he forces his old college friends and former colleagues Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz, who own a very lucrative corporation known for its philanthropy, to create a fund for his family using his drug money. As the series finale comes to an end, all loose ends in the story are neatly tied up except for one. Assuming that Walter laundered the money properly, a record breaking 10.3 million viewers were left guessing whether Walter’s family would receive his fortune tax free.

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