Posted on Sep 26, 2012

When Whitney Houston died February 11, 2012, she left her family confused, sad, and penniless.

Unfortunately, many of them also depended on her for money when she was living, so losing her meant there suddenly no source of income. They have turned to doing reality shows, writing books, and generally exploiting Whitney's name—and fame—to earn money any way that they can.

Prior to her death, Houston had dealt with several money issues, including almost facing foreclosure on her Georgia and New Jersey homes because of unpaid property taxes and mortgage. It was reported that Clive Davis, her mentor, had been paying for her daily expenses. In addition, she was allegedly relying on advances from her record company. Houston’s royalties from record sales will now go to pay off those advances, instead of going to her family.

Houston did have a will and she named her 18-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina as her sole beneficiary. Unfortunately, a will has to go through probate court, which can take a long time and be quite expensive—not to mention the fact that the details become public. Famous people with many assets would generally have chosen to establish a living trust in this situation, but because she did not, Bobbi Kristina will not have immediate access to any money that she inherited (if there is actually anything to inherit). The money will be held in a testamentary trust and she will inherit 10 percent at age 21, another one-sixth at age 25, and the rest when she turns 30.

If Whitney had consulted an experienced Minnesota estate planner from Roulet Law, things would have played out a lot different for her family in the wake of her untimely passing. Her heart was in the right place when she wrote her will, but if she had a professional estate planner guiding her, she would have known about other options that would have been more favorable for her daughter.

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