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A lesson in estate planning from David Bowie

The death of David Bowie was the latest, great loss for the music industry. The 69 year old transcended music, and had a profound influence on art and fashion. While he will be most famously remembered for his music and influence on a generation of musicians, the structure of his will and how assets are to be distributed can serve as a model for large estates.

According to a recent NY Times.com report, Bowie’s estate is estimated to be $100 million. It appears that he made the most of the exceptions that allow for tax free estate transfers. His will calls for his apartment in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City to be transferred to his wife, model Iman. 

Iman is also left half of the reminder of his estate. The rest is divided amongst his children, which include a son from a previous marriage, and a daughter from his current marriage to Iman. Since she is under the age of 18, the money and property reserved for her will be held in a trust. Details regarding how the trust would be managed or a distribution schedule were not publicized.

Bowie also left $2 million to his longtime personal assistant and $1 million to his daughter’s nanny. He also named his business manager to be the will’s executor.

It remains to be seen whether there will be any disputes over taxation, given how the large majority of Bowie’s transfers would be shielded from taxes as a matter of law. If you have questions about how to structure your estate to minimize tax burdens, an experienced attorney can advise you. 

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