Celebrity Estate Lessons - Kurt Cobain
May 3rd, 2022
Kurt Cobain believed it was 'better to burn out than to fade away' when he committed suicide in 1994. Afterward, an attorney came forward to say that Kurt Cobain approached her to have documents written excluding his wife, Courtney Love, whom he was planning to divorce from his Will. Unfortunately, he never went forward with this estate plan. So, when he died, his estate passed to Love and their daughter, Frances Bean. If you know anything about the couple and their excessive use of drugs, you can see why this would not be the best idea. As one might have guessed, the issues that followed with his estate all seem to circle around Love.
In 1997, she created an LLC with Cobain's Nirvana bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic to manage band-related business. Then, in 2002, just before the release of a set of rare recordings, she filed a lawsuit to dissolve the LLC stating that Grohl and Novoselic were merely "sidemen." The suit was settled and the box set was scheduled for release.
Then, in 2009, Love's lawyer claimed that the people in charge of Cobain's estate had stolen $30 million and $500 million in estate holdings. Love then went on Twitter claiming that her attorney had been bought off by the fraudsters. Her attorney ended up suing her for defamation, a case which Love won.
Love claims this was the start of her estranged relationship with her daughter. At the age of 17, Frances filed a restraining order against her mother. Her aunt and grandmother were named co-guardians. Still in 2009, Love gave Frances the image and licensing rights for Cobain in exchange for a loan from her Trust.
In 2010, Frances turned 18 and gained control of her Trust. She makes about $100,000 a month from royalties and dividends related to the estate. She has gone on to say how uncomfortable it makes her to have this income, considering she didn't earn it and she never really knew the person who gave it to her (she wasn't yet two when her father died).
So, obviously, write a Will. This is more important when the people who might inherit your estate have mental health or substance abuse problems. While you may want to take care of those people, there are ways to do it without giving them your money outright, like setting up a Trust. This can also help protect your family members without these struggles who may also inherit.