It’s hard to imagine legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix preparing a will; only 27 when he died, he likely did not have a great deal of assets. However, his estate grew after his death, and his not having a will, combined with a lopsided will of his father, led to years of legal battles between the Hendrix siblings.
It’s ironic that when Jimi Hendrix died at the tender age of 27, only one of his legacies was his amazing artistry with the electric guitar. The second legacy was his estate, which grew to vast proportions after his death, as did his fame.
His brother Leon Hendrix and his adopted sister Janie Hendrix have been fighting with each other over that legacy. Both of them have sought to profit from it and have worked at cross-purposes. The latest battle between them was over a trademark infringement lawsuit.
This matter has been settled, as reported recently by the Seattle Times in "Latest Jimi Hendrix family feud resolved in settlement." That the siblings have been able to fight as long as they have could be the result of two distinct estate planning mistakes.
The first was that Jimi Hendrix passed away without having created a will or having done any other form of estate planning. By law his estate, including the rights to his music and image, went to his father James. It is unknown if Jimi would have wanted his father to control everything, or even anything at all.
Second, James Hendrix may have compounded the problem in his will, which left the entire estate to Janie and excluded Leon. While that will has been upheld in court and Janie legally controls Jimi Hendrix's legacy, that has not stopped Leon from attempting to profit off it as well. That is what led to the latest feud between Janie and Leon.
We may never know whether the feuding could have been avoided had either Jimi Hendrix had a will or James Hendrix had a will that more equitably divided the estate. It certainly would not have hurt the situation.
You may not be a rock star, but just the same, contact an estate planning attorney to help you avoid any family drama after you pass.
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