Marilyn Monroe and Jim Morrison had something in common when it comes to estate planning. Each of them wanted their resources to go to certain people. In the end, their assets wound up in entirely different hands.
In this post we will take a look at the estate plans of these two deceased entertainment icons.
The Monroe/Strasberg Connection
Marilyn Monroe did not have mentally competent close living blood relatives. She never had a relationship with her father, and her mother spent much of her life receiving psychiatric care.
She took acting lessons from Lee Strasberg and Strasberg’s second wife Paula Miller, who died in 1966. Apparently Marilyn and the Strasbergs developed a close bond, so close that Lee was her primary heir.
The legendary acting coach Strasberg eventually got married again to his third wife, a woman named Anna. She wound up inheriting Marilyn Monroe’s estate after the death of her husband.
Anna was very aggressive about the prospect of making a great deal of money using Marilyn’s fame and notoriety. She hired a company called CMG Worldwide to market Marilyn Monroe licensed products, and the revenue started to pouring in.
Ultimately she sold the rights for at least $20 million according to an article that appears on the NPR website.
The thing is, quite amazingly Marilyn Monroe never met Anna Strasberg but her earnings wound up in Anna’s pocket. You would have to think that she would have made other arrangements if she knew how things were going to turn out.
Jim Morrison’s Estate
Jim Morrison was not a fan of his parents. He used to tell people that his parents had passed away. If and when he came clean with someone he would say that they weren’t actually dead, but he never wanted to see his parents again.
Clearly, it would seem as though he would not want them inheriting his resources, but no speculation is necessary. He left behind a last will that disinherited them, leaving everything to his girlfriend (who was later found to be his common-law wife) Pamela Courson.
Jim died in 1971, and Pamela died 1974. Unlike Jim, Pamela did not leave behind a last will.
As a result, her parents inherited Jim’s estate. There was legal wrangling, and eventually they agreed to share the rights with Morrison’s parents.
Clearly, this was not consistent with Morrison’s wishes. In fact, in his will he specifically stated that he was leaving everything to his brother and sister if Courson did not live for at least three months after his death.
Think Things Through
It is important to think things all the way through when you’re planning your estate with the benefit of competent legal counsel. If you don’t see the big picture some rather profound unintended consequences could result.