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Musician's estate administration doesn't go according to plan

Following through with the terms of an estate plan is very important. After all, upholding this responsibility is one important way to preserve a person's memory and legacy. In cases where an estate plan calls for distribution of assets over time, the role of estate administrator becomes very important, because this individual is responsible for making sure the estate takes care of beneficiaries and any outstanding expenses.

One of the benefits of having a clear estate plan is that the executor of the estate can be handpicked. Not only that, but contingencies can also be put in place if the chosen estate administrator cannot perform his or her duties.

In the 1970s, the New York Dolls were pioneers in the punk-rock genre. The band achieved modest success while they were active, but became more notable years later. The guitarist for the band, Johnny Thunders, who was born John Genzale, passed away with little to show for his band's influence. He died in 1991 with about $4,000 worth of assets and no clear estate plan.

Thunders' sister took control of the estate and ended up making very wise investments. The estate grew immensely in value, eventually becoming worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars. The estate eventually made two payments a year to Thunders' three children, but that ceased in 2009 when his sister died.

Adding to the estate's assets was the buzz surrounding the inclusion of a New York Dolls song on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of all-time greatest songs.

At this point, Thunders' adult daughter took over as estate administrator. However, she wasn't able to afford a court-required bond necessary to take charge of the estate and distribution of payments. The daughter's two half-brothers, the other beneficiaries of the estate, have filed a claim to remove her from the administrator position. A court date is set to sort this issue out.

Receiving payments is often important to beneficiaries, which is why it's helpful to make sure that an estate is in capable hands when it needs to be administered. Proactive planning can help prevent issues with this important role years down the line.

Source: The New York Post, “New York Dolls estate fight,” Julia Marsh, Dec. 9, 2013

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