Adam Goldstein (better known as “DJ AM”) was found dead in his New York City apartment in August 2009, from an accidental drug overdose aged 36. Adam, a gifted musician helped pioneer mash-up culture, was one of the early promoters of Las Vegas as a club mecca and was the first DJ to sign a million-dollar annual contract.He died without a Will.
At the time of his death Adam’s estate had a net value of about $1 million. As Adam was unmarried and had no children, California’s intestacy laws dictate that everything goes to his mother Andrea, as she was his only surviving parent.
Andrea submitted that her son was trying to sell his Los Angeles-area home at the time of his death and any sale would be frozen if there wasn’t an executor or administrator (legal personal representative) named.
Another reason that Andrea sought administration of the estate is that Adam had filed a $20 million dollar lawsuit following the crash of a private plane in which he was one of two survivors. The crash left him with severe second- and third-degree burns on his scalp and arms.
Adam had issues with drugs and alcohol for the majority of his life. He was smoking marijuana in high school, and although he had a stint in rehab as a teenager was drinking heavily and doing drugs including smoking crack by his mid 20’s. At 25, believing his life was at rock bottom, he attempted suicide by placing a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger; however the gun jammed.
In an interview in 2007 Adam said he had been sober for nine years. He lost weight through gastric bypass surgery in 2004, and was living a healthy life. However following the plane crash Adam suffered survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress that may have ultimately led the recovering drug addict to a critical relapse. With some believing that
“Without the plane crash, we’d still be enjoying his musical talents.”
Notwithstanding he suffered from addiction, had attempted suicide, and admitted that he was grateful to be alive after the plane crash none of this prompted him to make a Will. It is not known if he wanted his mother to take his entire estate – which reportedly included over 1,000 pairs of sneakers- without a Will we can only speculate.
There are many reasons why people don’t have wills probably the most common of those is that they don’t want to think about death. Surveys of Will makers are skewed toward people over fifty.
However speaking from personal experience death does not discriminate and people of all ages die. A simple Will enables you to specify how your assets will be distributed, and who will receive them. If you die intestate, the laws of intestacy apply and you will have no say in how your estate is distributed, or who will care for your children if they are minors.
A Will is a basic planning document that can be made quickly and easily, and should be updated as your circumstances change. Importantly having one means your loved ones have much less to worry about at a particularly distressing time.