When he departed this life for the big guitar center in the sky, rock musician Jimi Hendrix left a recording legacy that has grown over time.
Something else has grown over time, too: a string of lawsuits among his family members along with other costs related to that legacy.
Hendrix never set up a trust (or, for that matter, a will; he was too busy jamming and kissing the sky) and the years since his death at 27 in 1970 have been crowded with bitter lawsuits as his relatives have fought for control.
That’s a serious problem considering that Hendrix’s death hasn’t stopped him from being one of the world’s highest-earning posthumous celebrities—in 2017, for instance, Hendrix earned more than $6.6 million.
Many estate specialists point out that a trust would have helped to address that as well as the family battles in the years since.
Hendrix’s tragic death left his $66-million estate (now estimated at more than $175 million) in a state of intestacy—which is how you describe what happens when someone dies without a will or any form of estate plans.
There were plenty of people who were his potential heirs—including two kids born out of wedlock, his father, his brother, his live-in girlfriend at the time, another woman who said she was engaged to the guitarist, and a step-sister.
Without a trust, though, the laws involving intestacy directed that his assets went to his father, Al. That led to an extremely tangled situation and decades of bitter feuding—especially when Al cut Jimi’s beloved brother, Leon, out of the estate—that couldn’t have been farther from the spirit of love and joy that you hear in Hendrix’s music.
If you have family members who don’t get along, it’s not hard to see into the future, is it? If they’re fighting now, there’s a good chance that they’ll keep fighting later over your assets later, right? Establishing a trust is a good way to avoid these costs—although the use of the word ‘costs’ here doesn’t just refer to the money spent on litigation.
In the case of Hendrix’s heirs, though, that money is pretty considerable. Leon, for example, had attorney fees and court costs of more than $3 million.
But a trust can also spare your loved ones from the emotional trauma and ugliness that comes up when family members don’t get along.
During the court fight over Hendrix’s estate, for example, Leon was revealed to be a former drug addict while his stepsister Janie, who had ended up having control as trustee, was exposed for mismanaging the assets.
There is always going to be dirty laundry when it comes to family dynamics, but a trust often provides the best way to minimize how much of it gets aired in public.
Do What Jimi Didn’t
If Hendrix had set up a will or trust, his estate would never have been mired in lawsuits for more than thirty years.
And some heartbreak would have been avoided for the people who had been closest to Hendrix, including his mom, who was reported to never receive anything.
“You don’t need to be a rock star with a massive estate. Trusts are for everyone,” says Christopher B. Johnson. “It’s the unfortunate situations of celebrities like Jimi Hendrix, though, which make it clear why it’s important for everyone to consider having one.”
Trusts are invaluable tools for ensuring that you keep control of who gets your assets one day.
Who should get to enjoy your legacy, the people you want or the ones that the state decides on? The answer should be obvious—and so should your decision to contact the offices of Christopher B. Johnson today.
- Contact the law offices of Christopher B. Johnson for a free consultation about setting up a trust and protecting your legacy.