David Bowie’s January, 2016 death broke millions of music lovers’ hearts.
From 1969’s Space Oddity to 1972’s Ziggy Stardust, 1983’s Let’s Dance, 1999’s Hours, 2003’s Reality and this year’s Blackstar—Bowie’s music defined life’s decades for so many.
We grew up, regrouped, and grew anew with each album.
Bowie was always one step ahead of the curve, introducing new musical (and androgynous fashion) styles in one decade, and re-introducing “older” classical musical genres (and Seville suits) in another.
With his death, Bowie issued one final release—his will.*
In the process, Bowie once again led the way.
Bowie’s will (under his given name David Robert Jones) named trusted professionals as the executors of his estate, to collect, maintain and distribute his assets.
The will left Bowie’s residence to his wife (former model Iman), and funds/stock to his personal assistant and Bowie’s childhood nanny.
The will divided Bowie’s remaining estate amongst his wife (50%), his son from a prior marriage (25%), and his daughter from his second marriage (25%).
His minor daughter’s bequest, including real estate, was in trust.
Bowie modified his original 2004 will in 2007, five years before his death. Had Bowie reviewed it again, he might have made further adjustments.
Bowie, for example, might have chosen to keep his dispositional scheme private.
If so, he might have used a trust, not a will, for his substantive bequests.
Unlike a will, a trust is usually not filed with the court and so is not made public.
Bowie’s will also directed that he be cremated in Bali and his ashes scattered there.
While wills typically include these type of provisions, a will alone provides no certainty that they will be followed.
A will may not be found or accessed, for example, until after a body’s disposition.
In such cases, the departed’s wishes as to the disposition of his remains may unintentionally be disregarded.
For that reason, a separate, easily accessible memorandum, in addition to the will itself, is recommended.
Whatever the specifics of Bowie’s will, this transcendent star knew the importance of an estate plan.
Be like Ziggy—create or review your estate plan today.
*Photo from Dezeen magazine