The news following Aretha Franklin’s recent passing that she had left a very substantial estate with no will, and without making adequate provision for a special-needs child, left me shaking my head. I guess I always thought that behind any celebrity was a team of professionals; agents, managers, accountants and lawyers, making sure their affairs were in order. It appears not.
Ever curious, I decided to poke around a bit see if I can uncover any other estate planning disasters of the rich and famous and I didn’t have to look very far.
Pablo Picasso, one of those famous artists of all time died a very wealthy man with a huge inventory of artwork stuffed in his château, and remarkably without a will. He reportedly steadfastly refused to ever make one.
Picasso had a famously convoluted love life, with two wives, many mistresses and number of children born both in and out of wedlock. his refusal to make a will left his estate in an absolute mess which took some seven years and the expensive assistance of a number of lawyers to sort out. In the end result, the clear winner was the French government which walked away with the lion’s share of the estate in death duties.
Indeed, for a time it appeared that only his eldest son would inherit, and it was only due to a posthumous modernization of French intestate succession law that his other children eventually received anything.
Quelle mess! It can’t have been what the great man intended .