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Financial Literacy - Planning for your heirs
Legacy of Warner Bros
The granddaughter of Harry Warner, president and co-founder of Warner Bros., inherited more than money.
Planning for your heirs

Spotlight: Cass Warner

That was quite a gamble your grandfather took. Any of those funds trickle down to you?

Well he enjoyed the movie game so much but he really loved real estate. Real estate is what the family inherited really. That's part of my story I'm telling. My part of the family didn't end up with as much as Jack's side of the family. I guess Harry was a bigger gambler.

Harry had the wonderful ability to dream big, and because he believed so strongly in his and his brothers' vision and goals, he felt confident in being able to make their dreams a reality by gambling everything they owned several times. It was said that he had an uncanny ability to raise money from bankers. The saying goes that he "had the persistence of a mosquito on a hot night."

You said your family inherited real estate. What were these real estate holdings worth, and where in Los Angeles were they?

I don't know what his real estate was worth originally. He bought ranch property -- about 1,100 acres -- outside of Los Angeles when there wasn't a freeway to get to it. It was basically farmlands and orchards. It's now what's called "The Warner Center," which was one of the first places in Los Angeles where you had malls with all your needs near to where you lived and worked. It's off Topanga Canyon and the 101 Freeway.

Do you know if your father drew up an estate plan?

My father, Milton Sperling, had an estate plan, but I'm not sure what it was. My grandfather definitely had an estate plan and had an adviser help him draw it up. As far as my parents, they set up a trust fund for each of my four kids' college. So I always knew that would be taken care of no matter how well I did financially or if I saved or invested for my future.

Do you invest in real estate or the stock market or collectibles?

I love real estate and I've managed to support myself by buying a home, living in it and selling it. Also, I've been blessed a very few times in my life when there was a sale of some of my family's real estate that they owned as a group. One sold a few years ago and that's how I managed to get my documentary going.

Has real estate offered you some financial security?

I rely on the few projects I'm working on at the moment for future money. I guess that's a gamble in itself.

-- Posted: Nov. 19, 2007
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