Celebrity Estate Lessons - Nelson Mandela
May 9th, 2022
An important component of one's estate plan that is often overlooked is stating what you would like done with your remains when you've passed.
In 1996, Nelson Mandela hand wrote a Will stating he wished to be buried with his three predeceased children in his remote ancestral village of Qunu. His oldest grandson Mandla Mandela (I know, only a little confusing) hoped to create a tourist attraction out of Mandela's final resting place. He secretly had the three children exhumed and reburied in Mvezo, another village, in an attempt to make a new family burial site. Needless to say, his family members weren't pleased and sued to have the bodies returned. They won the case. Mandla was locked out of the house in Qunu and forced to remove his dogs from the property.
In the US, a number of Mandela's descendants sued in an attempt to take control of a Trust fund written for the benefit of his heirs. They backed off when Mandela (who was still alive at this point) heard about it and was...let's just say quite put out.
When he passed in 2013, he left his estate in Qunu to his third wife Graca, whom he married in 1998 and was still married to at his time of death. His second wife, Winnie, whom he was married to during his incarceration, was left nothing. Her attorney filed a suit, claiming that she purchased the property in 1989, while Mandela was in prison, and therefore she had ownership rights. She sought to have the home left to her children stating, "It is only in this home that the children and grandchildren...can conduct their own customs and tradition.' She did not win the suit.
Mandela's six children and some of his 17 grandchildren were given £180,000. Graca waived her right to half of Mandela's estate, but kept their four Mozambique houses. He also left a large amount of money to various charities. In 2017, the Mandela estate's attorney was sued to return money from an off-shore Trust to South Africa, after the Trust was named as part of the Paradise Papers, a set of leaked documents naming companies and individuals with offshore investments.
So, I may sound like a broken MP3 player, but it's important to have your Will written. This is especially true when you can be reasonably sure that your final wishes will anger someone in the family, causing a lawsuit. So, contact someone and get the process started!