Lessons from Marilyn Monroe’s Estate
Regardless of whether you were a fan of the late Marilyn Monroe, you can benefit by examining her estate. A veritable lesson in “what not to do,” Monroe failed to proactively assign beneficiaries to her substantial estate.
At the age of 36, in 1962, Marilyn Monroe died from a drug overdose. Her long-time business manager, Inez Melson, has allegedly been suspicious about the contents:
- She left money to care for her mentally ill mother.
- She bequeathed some of her personal belongings to Inez Melson.
- 25% of her assets went to her psychiatrist, to help those who couldn’t afford psychiatric counselling
- 75% (most her estate) was assigned to Lee Strasberg, her acting coach
Although Lee Strasberg controlled Monroe’s estate for a short while, his second wife, Anna, took over shortly thereafter. She had only met Monroe one time, and is known for having created utter chaos about the estate for years.
What we learned from Marilyn’s estate:
- Multi-million lawsuits over publicity rights. Strasberg won multi-million lawsuits over publicity rights of Monroe’s image and likeness. Ironically, she has since earned more money from Monroe’s estate than the actress herself earned while she was alive.
- Licensing deals. Strasberg made millions of dollars through a licensing deal with CMG Worldwide, which sold products with Monroe’s likeness.
- Personal belongings. Strasberg filed a lawsuit against the heirs of Monroe’s former agent, Inez Melson, for personal belongings. She won and auctioned them for more than $13 million.
Strasberg eventually sold her interest in Monroe’s estate, for $20 – $30 million. That figure makes Monroe one of the highest earning deceased celebrities of all time. Her estate earned $17 million in 2015, alone.
Estate Lessons from Marilyn Monroe
When you create an estate plan, consider everything very carefully. Even if you decide to name a specific person to benefit from your estate (as Monroe indicated for Lee Strasberg), you should specifically indicate that no one else should be allowed to wrest control from your beneficiary. Your experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you craft the language that will protect your estate.
If Monroe had indicated her intention to use the bulk of her estate to provide for the mentally ill, hundreds or thousands more could have benefitted from her estate. We can all learn from Monroe’s mistakes. We can help you come up with a good estate planning tool which provides for your family, friends, and charitable organizations.
Glendora & Upland Estate Planning
Keeping your estate planning binder secure and up to date will reduce confusion as well as the likelihood of disputes. Whatever your circumstances, rest assured that the legal professionals at Skvarna Law can help you to determine the best way to handle your trust. Skvarna Law Firm operates offices in Glendora and Upland, California and provides legal services for individuals living in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties. This includes the cities of Upland, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Colton, Rialto, Chino, Chino Hills, Glendora, Claremont, Montclair, Pomona, La Verne, San Dimas, Azusa, Covina, West Covina, Diamond Bar, Walnut, La Puente, Corona, Norco & Mira Loma. Visit SkvarnaLaw.com to learn more.