What would you leave behind for those you love when you’re gone?
First, you can’t take your estate (assets and liabilities) with you when you die, and one of the reasons you’re looking to build a strong financial portfolio, is to be able to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone.
Second, you don’t want a mess for those you care about to sort out – or worse, take on – when you leave this earth. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen, is through well-thought-out and comprehensive planning.
The list of people you know who died without an estate plan (wills, trusts, power of attorney etc.) is endless and the stories are most times sad.
What does Bob Marley, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jnr and Pablo Picasso have in common? Almost nothing, except that they died intestate (without a Will).
Short History Lesson? By all means
Martin Luther King Jnr.
As a civil rights activist who faced death threats, it is surprising that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t make a will. And while he was assassinated in 1968, his family fought for control over his estate for over 30years. While he was out busy fighting the war for civil rights, he neglected his estate preparations and died without a will. This marred his legacy a bit, as it caused a lot of infighting between his children. In 2014 they battled over his Nobel Peace Prize medal and personal traveling Bible. His daughter wants to keep these items, and his sons want to sell them.
Billie Holiday (44 years old).
Billie Holiday was an incredibly influential jazz and pop singer, known mostly for her vocal talent and great improvisation skills. Her style allowed her to easily overcome her limited range and lack of formal education, leading the musician to four Grammys throughout her career. She died with very little to her name – the modern-day equivalent of about $6300.
Without a will, her estate and future royalties were left to her estranged husband Louis McKay. He was a Mafia enforcer, and an abusive husband. They had been estranged at the time of her death, but not divorced – so, by intestacy laws, he gained control of the estate.
Marvin Gaye (44 years old).
Marvin Gaye, is one of the more influential musicians of our time. He released many songs throughout the years, each with his own personal style and edge that set his music apart from the rest. He even won a Grammy for his performances. He was eventually shot to death by his own father. It seems that Marvin Gay Sr. and Gaye’s mother had been involved in some sort of fight, in which Gaye got involved. Only a few minutes afterward, his father came into his room and shot him in the heart and the left shoulder. He died without a will.
You will be surprised to learn that a lawyer and the sixteenth President of the United States didn’t make a will before he died. His estate was worth $110,300 when he was assassinated in 1865.
Bob Marley (36 year old).
The Father of modern reggae Bob Marley died from a malignant series of tumors that was first discovered in 1977. Doctors initially found the cancer in his toe, and recommended amputation. However, Marley cited religious beliefs and denied the amputation. Bob Marley died intestate even though he knew he had cancer and lingered for nearly 8 months. He was worth about $30million.
Jimi Hendrix (27 years old).
Without a doubt one of the most legendary guitar players of all time, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Woodstock alum Jimi Hendrix made a significant impact on the future of rock music. Although Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, the battle over his estate raged on for more than 30 years for one simple reason: Hendrix left no will regarding distribution of his estate. To complicate matters, the estates of musicians and other artists often continue to generate money long after their deaths.
Pablo Picasso died in 1973 at the age of 91, leaving behind a fortune in assets that included artwork, five homes, cash, gold and bonds. Because Picasso died intestate and left no will, it took 6 years to settle his estate at a cost of $30 million. As he had no will, his wife ended up taking control of the estate. However, she cut out his kids and grandkids until she ended her life. His assets were eventually divided up among six heirs.
Tupac Shakur (25 years old).
Often hailed as one of the most influential rappers of all time, Tupac Shakur sold over 75 million records during his time in the music game. He was a fantastic lyricist, usually writing about gang life and other realities of growing up in Harlem. Tupac died violently, in a likely-gang-related shooting that occurred in Las Vegas in 1996. He died without a Will, and his estate was transferred to his mother.
Morale of the Story
Famous or not, everyone should have a will. The minimum requirement is that you’re above 18 and of sound mind. It’s simple to do and it saves your family a lot of money and headaches. And, as illustrated by the stories above, you’re never too young—or too smart or too powerful—to have a Will.
Your family will love and respect you more than ever for the care you demonstrated by leaving them without questions or concerns regarding your wishes, desires, and intentions. That’s a legacy anyone would be proud to leave.
If you have any questions about planning your estate with trusts, wills and/or a power of attorney send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org