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What Young Americans (and Not So Young Americans) Can Learn from Bowie’s Estate Plan

At first look, the provisions of David Bowie’s (his real name was David Robert Jones) Last Will and Testament seems like a fairly normal estate plan: specific bequests of relatively small amounts and specific assets to a few people. One-half of his remaining estate was left to his wife, and the other half was split evenly between his two children. However, this was no ordinary estate. David Bowie, the glam rock singer who had his start in the 1970s and reinvented pop music as well as himself multiple times over, had also amassed quite an estate in his lifetime.

Estimated at over $100 million, Bowie’s estate included an apartment in New York, a mountain retreat located further north in the same state, and various collections. In addition, there is the matter of residual income from music and rights on works already released, or that could be released after his death, that will generate income to his estate as well. Interestingly, Bowie did not just direct that his assets be distributed outright to all beneficiaries. He directed that the portion for his wife, Iman, be held in trust with income paid to her quarterly and that she could request additional amounts for standard “health, education and maintenance,” ensuring she is cared for over an extended period and not at risk for sudden loss of financial support. The portion for his 15-year-old daughter is to be held in trust until she reaches the age of 25. His son, on the other hand, already in his mid-40s, was deemed by Bowie to be mature enough to take care of his own affairs. He will receive a quarter of the estate outright, according to reports.

Although the amount and nature of the assets involved in Bowie’s estate planning are certainly unique, the techniques, options, and flexibility that he used are available to anyone willing to take the time to think through their planning needs and goals. A well-designed and carefully drafted estate plan ensures your estate passes to whom you want, when you want and in the manner you have chosen.

For nearly 20 years, MendenFreiman’s estate planning attorneys have offered families peace of mind by skillfully and carefully planning for the transfer of assets upon the death or incompetence of a loved one.

If you have questions about estate planning in general or how to go about establishing a trust, contact us today.


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