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David Bowie leaves behind lesson in estate planning

Most Ohio music fans probably heard that David Bowie passed away at age 69 in January after succumbing to terminal liver cancer. His legacy has much to offer everyone, including some good lessons in solid financial and estate planning.

Mr. Bowie reportedly had many financial problems in the 1970s and 1980s, nearly having to file for bankruptcy. In 1992, he married his wife Iman and began working to secure his finances. He reportedly met with an investment banker in 1997. The banker helped him to set up what they termed as "Bowie bonds," which allowed the buyer to have a stake in his musical catalog without his having to sell his copyrights and licensing. Instead, the buyer received an annual 7.9 percent return for 10 years. Prudential Life Insurance Company purchased all of the Bowie bonds for $55 million and was paid in full by the end of the 10-year period.

This shrewd financial move helped Mr. Bowie to amass an estate worth an estimated $200 million at the time of his death. According to the investment banker, Mr. Bowie wished to both enjoy tax savings and also to make certain his estate would benefit his wife, their daughter and his son from an earlier marriage.

It is believed that Mr. Bowie also established a series of trusts in order to pass his assets privately and help his family avoid probate. By contrast, many other famous entertainers have died without properly planning their estates, leaving their potential heirs to battle in court over their assets and estates. Everyone may benefit from good estate planning, and an attorney can suggest different strategies based upon a client's goals and particular financial circumstances.

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