Is the king of rock and roll dead? That depends on who you ask. Many people will tell you he’s alive and well and living the good life on a deserted island with a drink in hand. Unfortunately, the king has, in fact, passed on. However, there are many lessons to be learned from the King’s estate plan.
In his prime, Elvis Presley was the highest earning celebrity. It is estimated that he earned around $1 billion during his lifetime. Why then, did his bank account contain only $5 million when he passed away in his Graceland home on August 16, 1977? It all goes back to Elvis’ manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker. Now, before we destroy Mr. Parker’s character, it’s important to note that Elvis’ manager was responsible for helping the King sign many lucrative deals. However, Parker also charged Presley a 50/50 manager’s fee — a far cry from the industry standard of 20 percent.
Additionally, Elvis lived a lavish lifestyle filled with expensive properties and automobiles. In fact, he even bought Cadillacs as gifts for members of his Memphis Mafia entourage. Parker also set up companies like Elvis Presley Enterprises in order to reduce Presley’s share to 22 percent of every dollar earned — even on merchandising. When Elvis Presley passed away, his will named his father Vernon Presley as the executor. Unfortunately for Elvis and his estate, Vernon was not financially savvy and thus turned to the ever helpful Parker for legal guidance. Parker managed to persuade Vernon that given his failing health, he should let him manage the Presley estate and receive 50 percent of all income it generated.
Fortunately, a probate investigation revealed Parker’s schemes and all agreements with Elvis’ former manager ended. Eventually, the Presley family turned Graceland into a tourist attraction that earned tens of millions of dollars every year.
Of course the major lesson to be learned from the Elvis Presley estate is choose your executor carefully. Ensure that the person you select is trustworthy and has your best interests at heart. Also, although Elvis Presley’s estate was dwindled through the scheming of Tom Parker, the King was smart enough to create a testamentary trust where his nine-old daughter Lisa Marie was named as the beneficiary.
Estate planning can be confusing, especially if you have substantial assets. With the help of a skilled attorney, you can navigate pitfalls and ensure your legacy is enjoyed by your intended heirs. For more information on estate planning in Hunterdon and Union Counties, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., by email at email@example.com or call 908-236-6457 today.