It is generally well known that when Michael Jackson died, he was on the brink of bankruptcy. Since his death, however, his estate has grown by tens of millions of dollars. For the heirs of James Brown, death has not been nearly as profitable an experience.
As Forbes reports here, unlike the King of Pop, the Godfather of Soul did not pay too much attention to estate planning. Not updating his estate plan was a serious blunder when one considers the turmoil in a life with multiple marriages and a child born late in life. This was compounded by a failure to properly set out his plan for the distribution of a large portion of his wealth to worthy charitable causes.
You may recall that the estate has always had a serious problem getting itself together. After Brown died on Christmas Day 2006, there was a long battle to determine how he would be laid to rest and, until things were settled, poor Mr. Browns body lay in refrigeration. Since then, court fights and mismanagement have depleted the once hundred million dollar estate to as little as $14,000 with about twenty million dollars in debts.
The estate’s ultimate hope lies in whether or not it can properly capitalize on Brown’s large, valuable and popular body of work. Perhaps the proper marketing of Brown’s music can still enable his estate to achieve his charitable aims.