When David David Bowie passed away from cancer on January 10, 2016, we lost an icon whom had far-reaching effects into the world of music and culture. However, we gained some valuable lessons from his profound business and estate planning.
After David Bowie married his second wife, supermodel Iman, he moved to New York and strategically planned out his financial legacy. Although he had difficulties and reportedly neared bankruptcy, he was able to structure his assets in such a way that he received a fixed rate of return on his music empire. In successfully retaining rights to his songs, he was able to control his estate plan and achieve security for his friends and family, including his two young children. David Bowie planned ahead so that they would benefit from his music catalogue.
Bowie’s Last Will and Testament was recently filed in the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan and it revealed sound planning by the musician to distribute his fortune. It is reported that his 2004 Will provides that Iman will receive real estate and half of his assets as the surviving spouse. Insodoing, it appears he used trusts to help manage the distribution, and his trustees will be able to provide allocations of funds at quarterly intervals and for her health, education, maintenance and support.
Also, David Bowie’s Will leaves percentages of assets for his children, including a trust for his minor daughter, such that a trustee will manage the money until she reaches 25 years old. Such drafting reflects Bowie’s decision to assist with his daughter’s share of his estate and likely maintain flexibility to act for her benefit. Finally, David Bowie left bequests of cash for other individuals and specific directives for the distribution of his ashes in Bali, further evidencing the importance of creating an estate plan. When considering the royalties from music and performances that his estate will continue to earn for decades, the importance of David Bowie’s planning will resonate even moreso to provide comfort for his family and ensure his legacy.