Celebrity Estate Lessons - Bob Marley
June 14th, 2022
Bob Marley died in 1981 and it took over 30 years for his estate to be settled.
Marley didn't write a Will, claiming it was against his religion. So, when he died, his estate had to follow the intestate (fancy lawyer word for didn't have a Will) laws of his homeland of Jamaica. These laws gave 10% of his assets to his wife, along with a 45% life estate. His eleven kids then were left the remaining 45% of the estate to divide equally. None of them were entitled to the rights to his name or image.
During the probate, it was discovered that Marley's attorney and accountant convinced his wife to forge Marley's signature on a number of documents "written" before his death. This was done in an attempt to move the majority of his estate to her.
Lawsuits ensued, claiming $13.4 million had been moved. The accountant and attorney were found guilty and were forced to pay $6 million. His wife wasn't found to be responsible, but she was removed as Trustee of the estate.
Marley owned a house in Miami where his mother had lived since 1977. Chris Blackwell, president of Marley's record label, wanted to include the house in a sale of Marley's estate. They attempted to evict his mother, who was surprised since, even though the title was in her son's name, it was widely known that the house was a gift for her.
In a case settled in 1991, the Jamaican court ruled that Marley's wife and children had the exclusive right to use his name and likeness. This caused another lawsuit in 2011 when his wife and children sued Richard Booker, Marley's half-brother, who was using the name to market a music festival and give tours of the singer's hometown.
In Marley's case there was an easy way to avoid most, if not all, of these problems: write a Will.
Contact Harrison Estate Law to learn more.