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It’s a Family Affair: Talking to Your Family about Financial Planning

Posted by Katie O'Connor | Director of Client Services

August 15, 2018

The “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown, had a noble vision for how he wanted his assets distributed after his passing. His will had set aside $2 million for his grandchildren’s education, and he would also set aside millions of dollars for the education of underprivileged children in Georgia and South Carolina.

Eleven years after his passing, not a penny has gone to these beneficiaries of his will.

The reason: ongoing legal battles, as family members challenge Mr. Brown’s will in court and multiple parties argue over the assets in his estate. More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed since Mr. Brown passed away in 2006, and one of them involves nine of Mr. Brown’s children and grandchildren suing the estate’s administrator as well as Mr. Brown’s widow, Tommie Rae Hynie.[1]

James Brown carefully crafted his estate plan to focus on education and his community, yet his wishes are arguably yet to be fulfilled. It leaves one to wonder: what if Mr. Brown had gathered his entire family together, had very frank and candid discussions about his estate plan, and told his family explicitly that they were not to challenge his wishes. Where would his estate be today?

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