Aaliyah’s Estate Isn’t Happy – Will Yours Be?

by | Sep 15, 2021 | estate administration, Estate Planning, estate planning in Indiana


Two decades have passed since a tragic plane crash claimed the life of rhythm n’ blues pop star Aaliyah Haughton, then 22 years old. Today, Patrick Ryan writes in USA Today, “ the whispers and coo of the R&B singer’s influence still resound in today’s music landscape.” This summer, an entire catalog of Aaliyah’s music will be available to the public on streaming video, her uncle (founder of Blackground Records) has announced.

Why has it taken so long to release Aaliyah’s music? The delay, Uncle Barry Hankerson says, stems from disagreements his company has with her estate. Those disagreements are apparently not over; estate attorney Paul Licalsi claims the estate was not made aware of the planned streaming release, and accuses the Blackground Records company of failing to disclose either its past earnings or the terms of the new arrangement. Blackground is “leeching off Aaliyah’s life work”, the lawyer says..

“Money and inheritance are the common causes of conflicts and disputes in families,” Virginia lawyer Misha Gill observes. “While there will always be some dissatisfied beneficiaries, estate planning goes a long way in maintaining harmony and smoothing out conflicts in families.”

Many young adults, even those of substantial means, imagine that estate planning is not yet a necessary process. What they don’t realize, the Heritage Law Center points out, is that “estate planning can be as beneficial for a young adult as it is for an adult on the brink of retirement.”

At Geyer Law, we agree. Even for young people who don’t have a lot of assets, an estate plan can help loved ones make emergency health care and after-death decisions. We view estate planning as a dynamic, continuous process, with each stage of life’s journey requiring careful planning to protect the people, the assets, and the values most important to you.

For younger clients, we begin by:

  • Creating a health care directive
  • Creating a list of social media sign-on information, designating someone to take over for the young person if needed
  • Discussing life and disability insurance to pay for healthcare and funeral expenses
  • Writing a will designating who will receive mementos that may be important to family members
  • Designating beneficiaries for the client’s bank accounts, 401K, and life insurance

When a young person suffers a tragic accident, there’s nothing to be happy about. But twenty years of strife and argument over an estate is not a legacy to be desired. Aaliyah’s estate isn’t happy, Patrick Ryan reports in USA Today. Ask yourself – is mine going to be?

– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W Geyer & Associates blog team