Celebrities need estate planning more than ordinary mortals do. They’re especially resistant to doing it, though.
Celebrities Live On
In this short video clip, John Branca Attorney points out that when a celebrity dies, the business of that celebrity lives on. This is one reason that estate planning is so important for celebrities. When they continue to have a ghostly presence in the world and to generate income from beyond the grave — sometimes large amounts of it — the ordinary default provisions of the law can’t hope to deal with the complexities.
Also, celebrities often have complicated lives, leading to a number of claims against the estate from a number of people, from legal and illegitimate offspring, business associates, spouses, ex-spouses, common-law spouses, and significant others. This, combined with the fact that their lives may be a bit on the dangerously wild side, means they have more need than most to set out clearly what they want to happen with their assets and business affairs after their death.
Prince’s Estate Was a Disaster
John Branca Attorney, who is known as the lawyer to the rock stars — with 30 clients from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, and Aerosmith — explains that Prince’s lack of estate planning led to a disorganized free-for-all after his untimely death with no will and no heirs at age 57. When Michael Jackson unexpectedly died, however, events proceeded in a more orderly way because his estate planning clearly specified what he wanted.
Prince died in 2016, but his estate has taken years to settle. The lack of a will may have cost untold millions in tax consequences. The administrator of the estate and the IRS disagreed about the value of the estate — the IRS said $163 million, and the administrator said $82 million. Three years into the process, the administrator had reportedly spent $45 million, including $10 million in legal fees. The estate was eventually shared among Prince’s six siblings, three of whom sold their rights to a music publishing company.
Celebrities are even more likely than ordinary people to refuse to look at the fact that they’re going to die someday. After all, they are treated as gods. If an attorney or other business advisor can convince the celebrity to face the facts and do some estate planning, the celebrity’s legacy and the people he leaves behind will benefit greatly.