Rich and Famous Estates
Celebrities typically become well known because of their wealth. They usually live lives with lavish homes, luxury vehicles, and more money than one can spend in their lifetime! So, what happens when the Rich & Famous pass on? Hopefully, they’ve got a well-appointed succession plan so their assets are able to be enjoyed by the next generation. Here is a look inside the details of how a few Top Celebs let their monetary legacy live on…
5. Marilyn Monroe – Estate Worth $17 Million
The Blonde Bombshell was absolutely no dummy when it came to managing her financial affairs. Despite her debilitating depression, which led to her premature death in 1962, she created a Final Will and Testament in 1961. While very short (only three pages) it was admitted into probate in October 1962. Monroe’s Will only held six provisions, but they were very specific and succinct:
· $10,000 to her half-sister, Bernice Miracle
· $50,000 to her secretary, May Reis
· $5,000 each to her friends, Norman and Hedda Rosten (and if they preceded her in death, then $5,000 would be set aside for their daughter, Patricia’s, education costs)
· Personal effects and clothing to her mentor and acting coach, Lee Strasberg
· $100,000 to be held in a trust that benefited two ladies: her mother (Gladys Baker) and the widow of a friend (Xenia Chekhov). Gladys was to receive a sum of $5,000/year, while Xenia was to receive a sum of $2,500 /year. Upon both women’s deaths, any remaining funds went to Monroe’s friend, Dr. Marianne Kris to aid her psychiatric studies
· The remaining assets after the first five provisions were paid out was the be split the following ways: 25% of the remaining assets went to Dr. Marianne Kris and the other 75% went to Lee Strasberg
4. Paul Walker – Estate Worth (estimated) $25 Million
This Fast and the Furious actor stole cars and hearts until his tragic death in 2013. Walker’s Will was called a “Pour-Over” Will, which allowed all of his assets (including his personal vehicles, 21 of which were auctioned off in 2021 for $2.3 Million) to be poured over [transferred to] his Revocable Living Trust. The Trust, not the Will, dictates the beneficiaries of all property and assets. And since trust documents are not public record, details of Walker’s estate are completely private. It is, however, reported that Meadow Walker (Paul’s daughter) was the sole beneficiary of the Trust.
3. Jimi Hendrix – Estate Worth $80 Million
Arguably one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze wasn’t just one of his top hits, but also a shroud over his estate at his death in 1970. At the age of 27, creating an Estate Plan or a Will was not a top priority for Hendrix—and who blames him!? But, while death may seem like it won’t come for you at that age, that’s precisely what happened to Jimi. The courts ruled where Jimi’s money was to go and it went to Jimi’s dad, Al. Now this was fine for Al…until 2002 when Al died and the estate had grown to its $80 Million worth. Al left most of Jimi’s money to his adopted daughter, Janie (this would be Jimi’s stepsister, with whom Jimi shared no biological DNA with). Jimi’s brother, Leon (with whom he shared full biological DNA with), was naturally angered by this decision and sued for Jimi’s fortune. After a three-year legal battle, the courts ruled in Janie’s favor and the Jimi Hendrix estate is now in possession of no blood relation of the late Jimi Hendrix.
2. Michael Jackson – Estate Worth $482 Million
The King of Pop’s death rock and rolled the world when fans heard about his accidental drug overdose in 2009. Similarly to Paul Walker’s Estate, Jackson’s Will was a “Pour-Over” Will, transferring his assets to the Michael Jackson Family Trust. While we don’t know all of the specific details, reports have stated that 40% of his estate was left to his mother, Katherine Jackson; 40% of his estate was put into a trust fund for his three children, Prince Michael Jackson Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, and Prince Michael Joseph Jackson II; 20% of his estate went to charity.
1. Howard Hughes – Estate Worth $2.5 Billion
A man who succeeded at nearly everything he did, from film making to aviation to investing to engineering, Howard Hughes had an astonishing multi-billion-dollar estate at the time of his death in 1976. Of his many eccentricities, the most surprising may be that he did not leave behind any type of verified Will. This resulted in a heated legal battle that lasted for 34 years and involved two ex-wives, a gas station owner, General Motors, the Supreme Court, 22 cousins, and the states of Texas and California—among many others. Because of no official Will being written by Hughes, probate law took over and the 22 cousins were awarded equal shares of Hughes’ $2.5 billion.
While many of the Rich & Famous take their asset management seriously and ensure they have a plan in place upon their death, sometimes even the smartest and wealthiest of celebrities may not do the best succession planning for their fortunes. Let this be a lesson to all of us, no matter how big or small our accumulation of wealth may be, be sure to have a true estate plan in place to preserve those hard-earned assets and pass them on to our next generation.
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