James Brown passed away 15 years ago, but his estate was just recently settled. This shows the importance of estate planning, as Brown’s estate was reported to be valued at nearly $100 million at the time of his 2006 death, but his Will was extremely vague. Because of the lack of clarity in his Will, there were arguments and disagreements among heirs and potential heirs to some of the late singer’s fortune.
Brown allegedly wanted the majority of his estate to go toward the creation of scholarships that would be used to help children who needed help with their education. Since Brown grew up very poor, in a wood cabin in a rural town, it made sense that he would want to help children have better lives than the one he experienced during his formative years.
Nearly as soon as the Will was shared, it was contested. The fight was ongoing for a long time, until the music assets from Brown’s estate were finally sold to Primary Wave Music for approximately $90 million. These assets included publishing, master income stream, and name and likeness rights. Five of Brown’s children and other potential heirs to his estate have been battling with one another all this time, trying to gain control of the estate and its assets. The probate court couldn’t settle the estate or allow any money to be paid to anyone until all the lawsuits had been addressed.
The settlement is not without issues, though, and that means it’s possible that one or more heirs will still find a way to contest the settlement in the future. That could delay payouts even further, and stop the money going to scholarships the way Brown wanted.
He is far from the only celebrity who didn’t have a solid Will in place, which is a good reminder for everyone to have estate plans and proper Wills for their own assets. That ensures that their estates will be paid out correctly, and money and other items will go where they were intended.
Is your estate plan current and complete? For help ensuring your estate is administered the way you would want, contact The Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center today.