Everyone should take estate planning seriously. But at the same time, the stakes are higher for those who are in possession of considerable resources like popular musical performers and professional athletes.
Let’s examine two different celebrity estate cases that provide some food for thought.
The Estate of Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison has become a legend of sorts, and he is among an elite group. We have all heard of “one-hit wonders,” and even some musical artists who have remained relevant for years oftentimes fade out of the public consciousness eventually.
Not so with the “Lizard King.” Morrison’s work has continued to sell, and of course his image has been consistently generating revenue as well via merchandise sales.
Even though Jim Morrison died when he was quite young, he did have the foresight to execute a last will. He made his girlfriend Pamela Courson his sole heir. She was actually deemed Morrison’s common-law wife by the court that decided the estate case.
He did include a clause in the will that would have given his resources to his brother and sister if Pamela Courson did not live for a minimum of three months after Morrison’s passing. Because of this, we know where he would have wanted the money to go if Pamela was not around to inherit it.
Morrison died on July 3rd of 1971. Pamela Courson died on April 25, 1974 after overdosing on heroin. She did not have her own last will.
As a result, Pamela’s parents were in line to inherit her resources due to intestate succession rules. Reports indicate that they eventually reached an agreement with Jim Morrison’s parents, and the Morrisons shared in the revenue generated by Jim’s work and sales of his likeness.
Jim Morrison reportedly told people that he never wanted to see his parents again. He was known to say that they were dead. This may be abhorrent to some, but this is how he felt. Yet, his parents and his girlfriend’s parents wound up reaping the rewards of his work.
He wasn’t quite as young as Jim Morrison was when he passed away, but Steve McNair was a professional athlete/celebrity who also died young. He played the majority of his NFL career as the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans. McNair, a married man who had children, was just 36 years of age when he was shot and killed by his girlfriend.
Estate planning attorneys will always emphasize the fact that it is never too soon to plan your estate assuming you are an adult. This is especially true if you have children. And, it becomes even more essential if you have assets that exceed the amount of the estate tax exclusion.
McNair had many millions, and he had a wife and children to provide for should something unexpected happen. Yet, he passed away without a last will or any other estate planning documents directing the transfer of his assets.
Because of this, McNair’s assets were initially frozen by the probate court, and a host of difficulties presented themselves.
Your Estate Plan
A properly drafted estate plan can help assure that your assets go to the beneficiaries you want, and can also include asset protection to protect your heirs from lawsuits, divorce and creditors. If you have minor children, a complete estate plan will also include a Will to assure that you have named guardians for your children. To learn more about living trust estate planning, we invite you to register for one of our free living trust seminar by following this link: Free Living Trust Seminars.