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Rapper DMX dies without an estate plan sparking extensive legal battle

Earl Simmons,  rapper known as “DMX,” died on April 9, 2021.   Like Prince, who died in 2016, Simmons was a great musician. Also like Prince, however, he died without a will or trust to pass on his multimillion-dollar estate.

Simmons’ lack of estate planning was a huge mistake that will undoubtedly lead to lengthy court battles and major expenses for his family. What’s especially unfortunate is that all of this trouble could have been easily prevented.


A common mistake
Such lack of estate planning is common. A 2017 poll by the senior-care referral service, Caring.com, revealed that more than 60 percent of U.S. adults currently do not have a will or trust in place. The most common excuse given for not creating these documents was simply “not getting around to it.”

Probate problems


Because Simmons was unmarried and died without a will, New York law stipulates that his assets are to be equally divided among his fifteen children.  

His three adult sons from his marriage to Tashera Simmons (his ex-wife), Xavier, Tacoma, and Sean, are petitioning to be administrators of the estate.  Simmons’ fiance, Desiree Lindstrom, recently petitioned to be administrator but was turned down. DMX has children from other relationships, with two other adult children, Sasha Simmons and Jada Oden, who have also filed to be administrators of the estate. 

It’s likely that probate proceedings could last for years due to the size of his estate. And all court proceedings will be public, including any disputes that arise along the way.

Such contentious court disputes are common with famous musicians. In Prince’s case, his estate has been subject to numerous family disputes since he died two years ago, and that even led to the revocation of a multimillion-dollar music contract. The same thing could happen to Franklin’s estate, as high-profile performers often have complex assets, like music rights.

Because these court battles will be public, not only will the contents of Simmons’ estate be available for everyone to see, but his family’s potential squabbles will likely be the subject of news headlines. All of these things could’ve been prevented with a well-drafted and counseled estate plan. 

Learn from Franklin’s mistakes
Although Simmons’ situation is unfortunate, you can learn from his mistakes by beginning the estate planning process now. It would’ve been ideal if Franklin had a will, but even with a will, his estate would still be subject to probate and open to the public. To keep everything private and out of court altogether, Simmons could’ve created a will and a trust.

While trusts used to be available only to the mega wealthy, they’re now used by people of all incomes and asset values. Unlike wills, trusts keep your family out of the probate court, which can save both time, money, and a huge amount of heartache. Plus, a properly funded trust (meaning all of your assets are titled in the name of the trust) keeps everything totally private.

Trusts also offer several protections for your assets and family that wills alone don’t. With a trust, for example, it’s possible to shield the inheritance you’re leaving behind from the creditors of your heirs or even a future divorce.

Moreover, trusts also offer protection if you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make decisions about your financial and healthcare needs. Using a trust, you can appoint someone of your choosing (not the court’s) to handle your financials if you’re unable to. With only a will in place, your family would have to petition the court to appoint a conservator or guardian to handle your affairs, which can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful.

Don’t wait another day
Regardless of your financial status, planning for incapacity or your eventual death is something that you should immediately address, especially if you have children. You never know when tragedy may strike, and by being properly prepared, you can save both yourself and your family massive expense and trauma.

Don’t follow in Simmons’ footsteps; use his death as a learning experience. Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, meet with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®. If you already have a plan in place, we can review it to ensure it’s effective and up-to-date. Contact us today for more information—we promise to make it easy.

This article is a service of [name], Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.