The Show Must Go On: Who Gets Matthew Perry’s Friends’ Residuals?

November 10, 2023

Matthew Perry may have passed away, but the enduring legacy of his role as Chandler Bing on Friends continues, including the substantial residual income from the show’s syndication and streaming. The Friends cast stands among the highest-paid in television history, with each member earning $1 million per episode during the final seasons and ongoing residuals for reruns. Let us delve into what happens to Matthew Perry’s Friends residuals following his untimely demise.

So how much was Perry still receiving from his Friend’s stardom? Reportedly, each cast member receives an annual income of approximately $20 million. The show itself generates about $1 billion annually from syndication, with each cast member, including Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, and Courteney Cox, receiving 2% of that total.  Let us not forget the reruns. Collectively, the cast earns an estimated $120 million annually from reruns, with each cast member getting around $20 million.

Perry continued to receive Friends residuals until his passing in October 2023. His residual payments will now be directed to his estate or to the beneficiaries specified in his Last Will and Testament (“Will’) or Trust (if he had created one). Given that Perry was unmarried and had no children, it is possible that his parents, his 5 siblings, or other chosen beneficiaries will receive these payments, although this information has not been publicly confirmed.

Notably, the SAG-AFTRA union has a Residuals Estate Department to handle such situations. When a union performer passes away, the department is notified, and they provide the necessary paperwork to redirect residual payments to the performer’s designated beneficiaries.


What would happen if Matthew Perry died as a Florida resident?

In Florida, when someone passes away without a valid Will or a Trust, The Florida Probate Code dictates who will inherit property left behind.  This is called Florida Intestate Succession Laws.  If an adult passes away without a spouse or children, Florida’s intestacy laws determine the beneficiaries of that person’s estate, generally following the below schema:

  1. The deceased’s assets will generally go to the closest living relatives, starting with parents if they are alive. If both parents have also passed away, the assets then pass to any surviving siblings or those siblings’ children, (a/k/a descendants).
  2. If the deceased person has no living parents, siblings, or their descendants, the law may look to more distant relatives, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, or their descendants.
  3. Escheat: In the rare case where no eligible relatives can be found, the estate may escheat, which means the assets become the property of the state of Florida.

It is essential to consult with an experienced estate planning and probate attorney in Florida to navigate the intricacies of the inheritance process, especially when there are no immediate family members. Another such instance when estate planning is crucial is when couples live together without getting married, as Florida does not recognize common-law marriages.  Meaning that, the state of Florida does not recognize couples as having entered into a marriage relationship or agreement after seven years, or any other length of time, of living together, even if the couple has otherwise displayed the habits of and reputation as a married couple. Without proper estate planning, your unmarried partner is not entitled to any of your assets after your death.

The sudden passing of a young star like Matthew Perry illustrates that celebrities, or anyone for that matter, who puts off creating a Will is leaving a big gaping hole in their finances. Proper estate planning can help avoid prolonged legal battles, uncertainties, and family conflicts over the distribution of assets and the management of hard-earned money you leave behind. Our exclusive focus lies in estate planning, ensuring you peace of mind for the welfare of your family once you are no longer here. Contact OC Estate and Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or to get started with your free consultation. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish and Russian.