Jim Morrison Estate Case Provides Valuable Lesson

Aug 30, 2013

Jim Morrison was a very successful entertainer during his life, and as we all know he had a reputation for hard living. You may think that he would not be someone who would take the time to execute an estate plan given his lifestyle and his age.

The singer was a member of the “27 Club.” This is the name given to the group of musicians who all passed away at this tender age, and it includes people of Morrison’s era like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. It also includes more modern stars like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.

Studies are conducted that are intended to get a feel for the estate planning preparedness of Americans. Most people in America do not have all the necessary estate planning documents in place. Younger people are especially remiss.

Many young adults don’t feel as though they’re going to be passing on any time soon, and they assume that they will have time to take care of estate planning later on. Jim Morrison was the exception rather than the rule.

Ironically, it is possible that the primary reason why Morrison was proactive about planning his estate was to keep his assets and his ongoing financial legacy out of the hands of his parents if he was to pass away.

Morrison did not have a relationship with his parents. He actually told people that his parents were dead. When he was being more forthcoming he admitted that they weren’t actually dead, but he said that he never wanted to see them again.

Morrison’s Estate Plan

Jim Morrison kept things simple by executing a last will with a sole heir, his girlfriend or common-law wife Pamela Courson. He did have concerns about what would happen to his assets if she was to pass away shortly after he did. Perhaps he expected her to commit suicide if he was to pass away.

He stipulated that his brother and sister should inherit his estate if Pamela died within three months of his own death. This is relevant because it clearly reveals the fact that he wanted specific people to have his assets if Pamela was not there to inherit them.

There was no mention of his own parents as you might expect, and Pamela’s parents were certainly not in his will.

As it turns out Pamela Courson died a couple of years after Morrison passed away. She was a young person who was not as diligent as Jim about estate planning. She had no will.

As a result, her parents wound up inheriting what she had, and that included Jim Morrison’s estate. Legal wrangling ensued and ultimately they agreed to share ownership of the estate with the singer’s parents.

If Jim Morrison would have planned his estate more comprehensively he could have provided for Courson throughout her life while making sure that his brother and sister inherited his estate in the event of her death.

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Ryan M. Denman and Dennis D. Duffy

Duffy Law Office, PLLC

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