Estate Tax Disaster Looms for Michael Jackson’s Estate

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The right of publicity is descendible in California.  This means that a person may transfer by will the right to exploit his or her name, likeness, image, etc., just as one might transfer, say, an heirloom piece of jewelry.

In Postmortem Rights of Publicity: The Federal Estate Tax Consequences of  New State-Law Property Rights, published in the Yale Pocket Part,    I have argued, together with  Mitchell Gans and  Jonathan Blattmachr, that  a descendible right of publicity likely is included in a  decedent’s gross estate for federal estate tax purposes. In the Jackson estate, the estate tax value of Mr. Jackson’s rights of publicity very easily could exceed his estate’s liquid assets available to pay taxes.

In short: big estate tax problems loom on the horizon for Mr. Jackson’s estate.

What do the particulars of the taxation of Mr. Jackson’s estate have to do with feminist legal theory?  Nothing.  But the economics of inheritance, family rights and wealth transfer taxation most certainly should interest those who study the ways that law constitutes and complicates family relations.

-Bridget Crawford

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1 Response to Estate Tax Disaster Looms for Michael Jackson’s Estate

  1. Roger says:

    I agree that an estate tax disaster looms for Michael Jackson. Prior to his death, there were reports of law suits for unpaid bills. Even with money from an insurance trust, the size of the estimated estate exceeds any known cash available to pay the taxes. I made an initial estimate of estate taxes, even without any value for the right of publicity of about 1/2 billion dollars in Will Taxes Destroy the Michael Jackson Estate? at Roger McClure

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