The world suffered the loss of singer, actress and producer Whitney Houston at the age of 48 last month when she was found dead of unknown caused in her Beverly Hills hotel room. While fans responded by rushing to buy her work, her family braced itself for the possibility of a battle over control of Houston’s estate. Some of the fear of an impending battle over control of Houston’s fortune were quelled this week when it was revealed that Houston left behind a trust naming 18 year old daughter Bobbi Kristina as beneficiary.
Bobbi Kristina is the child of Houston and her former husband, singer Bobby Brown, and is Houston’s only child. Bobbi was expected to inherit most, if not all, of Houston’s estate. Leaving a fortune to any 18 year old is generally not a good idea; however, it was of particular concern in this case as rumors are that Bobbi Kristina suffers from some of the same drug and alcohol problems that plagued her mother for the last half of her life. Adding to that, Houston and Brown had a tumultuous relationship that ended in divorce in 2007. Houston’s family was reportedly concerned that Brown would attempt to gain control over Houston’s fortune by seeking conservatorship over their daughter.
With the news that Houston left behind a trust, concerns over who will control her fortune can be largely put to rest. Houston did, indeed, leave her entire estate to Bobbi Kristina; however, by creating a trust, Houston was able to appoint someone she trusted as the trustee who will manage the trust assets until Bobbi Kristina is older and better able to handle them herself.
Levine & Furman, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.