Riley B. “B.B.” King died on 14 May 2015 at the age of 89 and was an American blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. King introduced a unique style of solo guitar and heavily influenced many later electric blues guitarists.
B.B. King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 having earned the nickname “The King of the Blues”. Until well intohis 70’s, he performed, on average, at more than 200 concerts per year.
In 1956, he appeared in 342 shows.
Some may only recall a single memorable song when he collaborated with U2 in 1988 to play guitar and sing on “When Loves Comes to Town”.
B.B. King was married twice but bore no children to either marriage. However, he estimated that he had 15 adopted and natural children to 15 different women. To some extent King tried to take care of his children. According to CNN, he set up a multimillion dollar education fund for his descendants. In his memoir he wrote that every time a woman came to him and said a child was his, he assumed responsibility without argument.
The Will places B.B. King’s long time business manager in sole charge of administering his assets, his property and his trust. The trust documents have not been filed publicly.
With so many children eligible, and the fact that his children and grandchildren were left a mere $5,000 and $3,000 respectively, it is not surprising that a battle is brewing over the King estate. This is especially the case since the vast majority of the estate is set aside in trust, to fund the education of his descendants. King, who had limited access to formal education himself, wanted to ensure that those of his lineage would have the opportunity to go to college.
Lessons to be learned
Lesson #1: It is impossible to keep everyone happy.
King believed that in setting up the education trust, he would be distributing his assets according to the best interests of his large, complex and extended family. Unfortunately, the happiness of one’s beneficiaries is never guaranteed. Greed is greed.
Lesson # 2 You have more control than you think.
It is possible to set up various trusts and other mechanisms through your Will with a view to providing for family members in a manner that will enable you to maintain control over what that money is to be used for and who has the final say over how the money is spent.
This can be an excellent strategy in situations where children are fiscally irresponsible, when beneficiaries have alcohol or gambling issues (past or present), or unable to care for themselves and provide accommodation.
Lesson #3 Inheritance Claims are often unavoidable
Even when your intentions are honourable you can’t guarantee that your beneficiaries won’t mount an inheritance claim against the estate.
Ultimately, the Court will look at the provision made for your beneficiaries. Following this it may conclude that they require more control over their own funds.
With varied nature of Estate claims, it is not always possible to overcome and prevent each and every challenge that might arise after your death.
However, a skilled and experienced estate planning lawyer, is able to bring to your attention risks that you may not even be aware of, workshopping thorough solutions (if any), and make alternative arrangements (if warranted) to at least reduce the risk or exposure to the value of your estate.
At Welden & Coluccio Lawyers we have the knowledge and expertise to counsel you through this very important aspect of estate planning. We know that awesome Wills, those that continue to work hard for you beyond the grave, begin with meticulous estate planning.