1. Money
Julie Garber

Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes - (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Write Your Will Your Way!)

By August 20, 2012

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On August 6 the last will and testament of 47-year old Adam "MCA" Yauch, one of the co-founders of the pioneer hip hop band Beastie Boys who died from cancer in May, was filed for probate in Manhattan Surrogate Court. While most of the provisions of the will are standard fare - it names Yauch's wife, Dechen, as the executor of the estate, and leaves Yauch's estate to a trust for the benefit of Dechen and their daughter, Tenzin - it is unusual in several ways.

First, it appears that Yauch and Dechen could not decide who should raise Tenzin if they both died before Tenzin reaches 18. In an apparent compromise, Yauch's will states that if his wife predeceased him and he died in an even numbered year, then his parents would serve as guardians for Tenzin, but if he died in a odd numbered year, then Dechen's parents would serve as guardians.

Second, the will contains the following clause: "Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes." According to Rolling Stone, which obtained a copy of the actual will, the phrase "or any music or any artistic property created by me" was not an original part of the typewritten will but was instead added by hand. According to attorney Wendy S. Goffe, the handwritten language could create legal problems for Yauch's family in the future since it limits the use of copyrighted material. Why is this a problem? Because if the copyrighted material is not owned exclusively by Yauch - for instance, it is owned jointly by Yauch and the other members of the band, Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz - then the other members could force Yauch's heirs to agree to use of the copyrighted material in an advertisement and profit from the arrangement while Yauch's heirs would receive nothing. While it is unknown if Yauch added the handwritten words to the will on his own or after consulting with his attorneys, based on the confusion and legal problems the words are bound to cause, it is likely he did it without any legal advice.

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