Rebel Rebel – we loved him so

It has been revealed what was contained within the Will of singer, songwriter, superstar David Bowie, who died from liver cancer earlier this year on 10 January 2016.

Bowie’s 20 page Will divides his $100 million fortune between his family and close loved ones and, given he was never one to follow mainstream ideals, in true Bowie fashion, had some very unorthodox directions in relation to his ashes.

Bowie requested that his body be shipped to Bali and “cremated there in accordance with Buddhist rituals”. The Will is further reported to have stated, “if that is not practical, then I direct that my executors shall arrange for my remains to be cremated and my ashes scattered in Bali.”

In Queensland a direction in your Will for your body to be cremated is binding on the executor of your estate, provided your executor knows of the existence of your Will (Cremations Act 2003 Qld section 7).

It appears that his executors must have considered cremation in Bali in accordance with Buddhist rituals to be impractical, as it is reported his body was cremated in New Jersey. It is however unknown whether the ashes will be scattered in Bali in accordance with Bowie’s direction.

In relation to his fortune, Bowie left $2 million to his personal assistant Corinne “Coco” Schwab, whom is rumoured to have saved Bowie’s life during his wild partying days in the 1970s, and $1 million to former nanny Marion Skene. In a further perfect Bowie-esque twist, Bowie left his interest in a company called “Opossum Inc” to Coco however, Opossum Inc is seemingly a mysterious entity, as it is unclear what it in fact does, and the estate lawyers have declined to comment to the press as to its intended purpose.

The remaining estate is to be split with 50% held on trust for his wife Iman and the remaining 50% split equally between Bowie’s two children, a 44 year old son Duncan Jones and his 15 year old daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones, with Alexandria’s interest being held on trust given her age.

The position is similar in Queensland insofar as a beneficiary under the age of 18 is not entitled to inherit from a person’s estate and therefore funds must be held on trust until the child turns at a minimum, 18. Provision can be made for distributions from the child’s inheritance for certain necessities such as education, housing and basic needs to ensure the continued welfare of the child until they attain the age required pursuant to the Will. Parents often at times nominate an age older than 18 for their child to inherit, such as 21 or 25, to ensure their child has matured to an age whereby, it is hoped, they are better positioned to make responsible financial decisions with respect to their inheritance. This generally does not pose any unnecessary burden on the child as bearing in mind that if a Will is correctly drafted, it will permit distributions for the basic needs of the child as required until they have attained the stated age.

It seems in Bowie’s circumstances, he did all that he could to ensure the continued maintenance of his loved ones by providing for them in his Will, all the while expressing his  patented rebellious and eccentric flare.

If it is time for you to consider the contents of your Will, contact our experienced Will and Estate Lawyers at McLaughlins Lawyers for advice on structuring your wishes and desires for your Will.

Author: Amy Zipf

Partner: Ian Kennedy

Date: 10/02/2016