In September 1996, Tupac Shakur one of the most influential artists in hip hop was shot multiple times, and died from his injuries six days later, aged 25, without a Will. (There have been reported sightings of Tupac alive and well in places as far afield as New Zealand and Cuba)
Tupac had barely anything to show for his chart-topping career. He had two cars, didn’t own his home and a little over $100,000 in the bank. Death Row Records, Tupac’s record label, claimed that he was several million dollars in debt when he died even though he had produced, and reportedly sold more than $60 million worth of records in the last year of his life.
As an intestate under California law, (Tupac didn’t have a spouse or children) his mother, Afeni Shakur and father, Billy Garland were entitled to share his estate. Billy was an intermittent presence in Tupac’s life, in order to inherit as an heir of an intestate estate unwed fathers must prove they had a substantial relationship with their child and provided monetary support. The Court decided that as he and Afeni had never married Billy failed to meet the test under California’s “dead-beat dad” law.
Billy appealed but reached a $900,000 pre-trial settlement, in which he agreed to forgo all rights to use Tupac’s name or likeness, as the “dead-beat dad” law does not cover those rights.
In 1997 his estate commenced lawsuits against Death Row, demanding, among other things, the return of more than 150 unreleased master recordings. A 1998 settlement awarded the tapes to the estate, enabling the release of four posthumous albums.
Afeni established the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation that benefits from music sales, royalties and the licensing of Tupac’s image. The performance at Coachella in 2012 by a “hologram” of Tupac occurred because Afeni allowed the use of his image and likeness giving him the honor of being the first deceased performer to appear on stage as a hologram.
In 2011 Tupac’s estate brought in $3.5million, is valued at $40 to $50 million and his albums have sold more than 75 million copies worldwide.
The history of recorded music is full of disputes between artists and their record companies so there is no way of saying that litigation would not have occurred, however if Tupac had created a Will Afeni wouldn’t have needed to take Court action to establish that Billy was a “deadbeat dad” and was not entitled to a share of the estate.
If you have started working it is a good time to make a Will, as it will make a difficult time for your loved ones a little easier.