Whitney Houston’s Estate Will Likely Swell Following Her Death

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November 17, 2015
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Whitney Houston’s Estate Will Likely Swell Following Her Death

Within hours of her untimely death, artist Whitney Houston was already fast on her way to becoming a hot commodity, as downloads of her singles soared and those who played a part in her career development began preparations to bring her impressive, if troubled, career to the forefront once again.  Whitney may join the ranks of other famous artists who have achieved the dubious distinction of great commercial success beyond the grave.  According to Forbes, the top five highest-earning dead celebrities of 2011 raked in almost $300 million last year and three of them; Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and John Lennon, have been deceased for at least three decades.

So what will occur now in the Houston estate?  Well, rumors have been circulating that Houston may have died broke, and that her record label had been advancing her money for some time.  Whether or not this is true, most of us die with some debt and Ms. Houston was likely no different.  Thus, money that comes into the estate will likely first go to pay her creditors.  Once this issue has been settled (and it will likely take some time) then the remaining assets, including any remaining estate income, can be distributed to her beneficiaries.

It currently remains unclear whether or not Ms. Houston left a will.  One would expect that she would have taken the time to have one executed, especially given the vast nature of her interests and the, at least at one time, large sums of money she commanded as compensation for her talents.  However, it is no secret that everyone should have a will; but many individuals, for whatever reason, choose not to do so.

If there is no will, then the handling of the estate will likely become even messier, as various interests come out of the woodwork to claim their share.  Also, Whitney left a daughter who was 18 years old, which means that she may be legally capable of taking control of her mother’s estate and receiving any inheritance thereunder.  This is a result that most parents would abhor, as they understand that while 18 may be the age of majority, it is often far too young to be entrusted with potentially large sums of money and power.  A well-drafted will should make provision to hold her daughter’s share of the Houston estate in trust, until she has gotten older, more mature and better able to handle such responsibility.

One of the most important things we can do for our family is leave a will that instructs how we want our estate to be administered and assists our family in determining our wishes.  Hopefully, the Houston family will not have to learn this the hard way.