There are a lot of theories and beliefs about what happens to us after we die, but one thing we know for sure is that death puts a definite crimp on our ability to go out and put in a solid day’s work at the office. That said, for entrepreneurs and investors who make the right kind of business choices and investment strategies during their lives can see their fortunes grow long after they are gone. Making sure that those fortunes go to the right people is a whole other matter, however, and that is where solid estate planning strategies come into play to keep your loved ones’ future stable and secure for years to come.
The Unending Fortunes to Be Made in the Afterlife
Every year, Forbes magazine releases lists of the people whose estates continue to make gobs of money even decades after their deaths, and, in some cases, far more than they might have earned in life. Michael Jackson, who passed away at age 50 nine years ago, made a $47.5 million investment in the Beatles publishing catalog in 1984, and even though he sold half of his stake in the catalog for $113 million in 1994, his estate’s sale of the remaining half brought in $750 million this past year (he also brought in another $75 million from other sources for good measure). Other people whose estates continued to make out-of-this-world incomes in the past year included:
- Bob Marley – who did not make all that much money during his brief life – brought in $21 million for his estate through sales of his music and coffee beverages bearing his name.
- Charles Schulz and Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, both beloved children’s authors and illustrators, brought in $48 million and $20 million for their estates, respectively, based on the continuing licensing of their books and other properties.
- Albert Einstein, who died more than six decades ago, brought in $11.5 million for his estate not based on any specific patent but rather primarily on licensing of his likeness.
- Elizabeth Taylor, who died in 2011, earned her estate $8 million based on fragrance sales.
Of course, most if not all of these names are continuing to generate money based on the value of their likeness or intellectual property simply held by their estates, as opposed to a family business which would change ownership upon death. But the point remains that the work we do in this life can have enormous financial implications far after our deaths.
Why Estate Planning is Important for Post-life Income Generation
One of the names that made the list, Prince, is a great example for why taking estate planning steps now can make sure that the income generated from your business investments and intellectual property goes to the right beneficiaries after you die. Prince died this past April with an estate worth approximately $300 million. And after he died, he earned another $25 million from the sale of his music and other products. But, importantly, he died without a will or any other apparent estate planning. Thus that money is tied up in a Minnesota probate court with various relatives and others claiming to be relatives and beneficiaries trying to get a piece of it, while the people he might have named as beneficiaries do not have access to the resources he would have bequeathed them. Furthermore, the estate is likely subject to massive estate taxes that might have been reduced with proper planning.
By taking steps to get your estate planning affairs in order now (even if you are a relatively young person – remember Prince was only 57 when he died accidentally), you can make sure that your beneficiaries get the property you want them to have and all steps are taken to reduce taxes and delay in the distribution process.
See What a Pasadena Estate Planning Attorney Can Do For You
Christopher B. Johnson is an estate planning attorney in Pasadena, CA who has helped thousands of individuals and families over the past 18 years in creating and reaching their estate planning objectives. Schedule a consultation with him today to discuss your estate planning goals.