David Bowie’s Will Made Page Six: How to Keep Yours Private

screen-shot-2016-02-01-at-7-25-51-amThe contents of David Bowie’s will were widely reported over the weekend.  Some provisions were “unusual” enough to make the New York Post’s famous gossip section, Page Six.

According to reports, $50 million went to his wife, Iman, and his two children will receive roughly $25 million each.  That wasn’t the excitement, though.

Mr. Bowie left his personal assistant Corinne Coco Schwab $2 million — according to Vanity Fair, Ms. Schwab has been credited  with “’saving Bowie’s life,’ a reference to his wild days during the 1970s.” Ms. Schwab will also receive shares of stock in a company called Opossum Inc., which, in what Vanity Fair calls “another deliciously Bowie-esque twist,” is currently a bit of an unknown.  “It’s unclear what Opossum does,” writes Page Six.

Marion Skene who was Mr. Bowie’s son Duncan’s former nanny was left $1 million.  As with Ms. Schwab, it seems Ms. Skene was very important in helping Mr. Bowie and his family make it through the 1970s.  According to the Daily Mail, Mr. Bowie’s ex-wife, Angie Bowie, has explained that Ms. Skene essentially raised Duncan.”

According to Ms. Bowie: “We were messed up as a couple but this little creature came and David was a great dad.  But when the baby was around, our lifestyle just didn’t work.  David and I were away doing drugs, at first together and then later apart. Marion effectively became Zowie’s mother.”

The final provision of Mr. Bowie’s will that has generated interest is his directive that “my executors shall arrange for my remains to be taken to the country of Bali and to be cremated there in accordance with the Buddhist rituals of Bali.”  Mr. Bowie was a longtime Buddhist who according to the New York Times initially became taken with Bali on a 1980 vacation there with Iggy Pop.

So how do you avoid having your personal business and your beneficiaries’ information out there for all to see?

We know about Mr. Bowie’s bequests and details of his requested burial because they were laid out in his 20-page will which was filed in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan on Friday. When a will is filed with the court, it is a public record that anybody (including reporters!) can access.  Had Mr. Bowie resided in Connecticut, he could have chosen to distribute his assets via a trust instead of having everything detailed in his will.  A trust can provide confidentiality and privacy since a trust does not normally become a public record.

This isn’t just important for public figures like Mr. Bowie — many people prefer to keep private matters private, especially when children are involved.  Please contact Freed Marcroft for more information about estate planning that can maintain your privacy.

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Written by Meghan Freed