Trusts and Estates Blog

When to create a Will – The Jimi Hendrix Legacy

Electric_GuitarThe landscape of American music was changing. Out with the swing, jazz, rhythm, and blues of the early 1900s, and in with the rock that captivated the nation’s young people. One man who was struck by the change, and some would say led the revolution was known for his retro dress, on-stage antics, and reckless lifestyle. To his mother he was known as Johnny Allen, but across the world he was known as Jimi Hendrix.

To understand the unexpected and sudden fame Jimi experienced, one must realize the poverty into which he was born. His mother, seventeen at the time of his birth, battled alcoholism her entire life and died when Jimi was sixteen years old. His father, a retired Army officer, did little to provide support for Jimi and his four siblings. Of the Hendrix children, Jimi was the only one to live in the care of a family member. His sisters Kathy and Pamela were given up for adoption early in life due to physical deformities. His brother Joseph also suffered physical deformities and was given to state care at age three. His other brother Leon was in and out of welfare care during his childhood.

Needless to say, Jimi faced many difficulties early in life. From run-ins with the law to a dishonorable discharge from the Army and difficulty selling himself as a bona-fide musician, some thought he’d never make it in show business. But despite the many setbacks he faced, Jimi struck gold when he took his music overseas to England.

Between 1966–1970, Jimi Hendrix became one of the leading rock guitarists in both England and America. But his sudden, overwhelming fame didn’t bode well for his personal life. Hendrix entertained many different girlfriends wherever he went, reportedly used elicit drugs, and even fathered a daughter.

In the midst of his fame, tragedy struck. Jimi Hendrix was found dead in a London apartment on September 18, 1970. Fans were crushed, the music industry shocked, and loved ones heart broken. But that wasn’t the end of their struggles, as it was soon discovered that Hendrix had left no will.

Hendrix’s estranged father, Al, took control of Jimi’s estate, and set Al’s adopted daughter from his second marriage in control of “Experience Hendrix”—Jimie’s estate. Al also cut out Jimi’s brother from the Hendrix legacy, sparking a court battle that lasted thirty years! Amidst the family struggle for Jimi’s estate, Jimi’s daughter, Tamika, came forward to claim her father’s estate. But since Tamika’s mother was a runaway teenager, the courts did not honor Tamika’s claim to the Hendrix estate, stating that no other US court had recognized her as his daughter.

In the end, the story of Jimi Hendrix’s legacy is marred by the continuous estate battles and fighting amongst his family, perhaps best displayed by his long-time unfinished tombstone in Washington. But all this turmoil could have been avoided had Hendrix taken time to create a will.

At the time of his success, Hendrix didn’t think twice about creating a will. His reckless living leads observers to believe his lack of planning was out of lack of concern about his future. But despite his youth, Hendrix should have planned for the care of his estate.

Here are three situations in which people should take time to create a personal estate plan:

1. After marriage. Marriage is a wonderful event that is preceded by many tasks. From planning the wedding to arranging a living situation and obtaining the wedding certificate, some minor details can get overlooked. One of those details is creating a will.

Once you and your new spouse are settled, take time to seek out an estate lawyer and plan for the care of your possessions should you pass unexpectedly. If you don’t create a will after marriage, definitely do so after having children.

2. After children. The birth of a child brings a couple into a completely different world of responsibility. Not only must they care for themselves, but their child is dependent upon their actions as well. What a wonderful yet overwhelming time!

Should the parents of a child under 18 years of age pass away, the care of their child is designated in their will. But if no will is present, the care of the child falls to the state who will place the child in foster care or other homes. The better transition for a child is if the parents designate a family member or close friend to care for their child.

3. After inheritance or success. Here is where Jimi Hendrix went wrong. Rather than recognizing the fame and monetary gain he was experiencing, he lived for the moment and failed to plan his estate. Of course he didn’t anticipate dying at a young age, but few people do so.

If you’ve come met financial success through your own efforts, come into a large amount of money or inherited possessions lately, take time to either create an estate plan or update your estate plan. The easiest way to assure a simple transition is to carefully plan for the care of your estate.

Posthumous court battles and family arguments can be avoided if you will take the time now to plan your estate. Learn from Jimi Hendrix’s mistake. Even though you might not think you possess much, take the time to create a will and allow an estate lawyer to help you plan for your future and the future of your family.

If you would like more information concerning your estate planning options, www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for personal wealth management solutions through wills and revocable trusts. Whether your estate planning goals are immediate or long-term, a California certified estate planning specialist will be able to counsel you on the best options available to you to meet your individual needs.

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