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Death of Afeni Shakur put rapper's legacy at risk

When the legendary California rapper Tupac Shakur met his ultimate fate in a hail of bullets in 1996, his lucrative estate passed into the hands of his mother, Afeni Shakur.

When Ms. Shakur passed away in California in May 2016, her death raised questions regarding who would then assume control of the decedent's still-thriving estate, which allegedly includes a significant amount of unreleased material recorded by the deceased rapper.

At the time of her death, Afeni Shakur was in the midst of divorce proceedings with her minister husband from North Carolina. Not quite two months prior to her death, Shakur filed a petition for divorce from her husband of a dozen years.

Having lived with him in that state, her petition was filed in North Carolina. As there was no prenup in place between Shakur and her husband, he requested, among other things, spousal support of roughly half of the proceeds that the estate generated.

When she died, Shakur had a net worth in excess of $50 million. As the arbiter of Tupac's estate, she received over 20,000 per month for her services. The estate itself allegedly brings in nearly a million per year.

Because the couple was still slugging it out in divorce court at the time of her death, the future control of the estate was in question. As Tupac had a sister who was also his mother's daughter, the matter became even more complicated.

It appears that, according to the late Ms. Shakur's attorney in an interview with Billboard, the management of the rapper's estate will continue to be handled by the founder of Loma Vista Recordings. He is also a former chief executive officer and chairman of Warner Bros. Records.

This case is an example of the necessity of having a well-designed estate plan in place, including contingencies, to avoid the necessity of survivors litigating the matter in the California courts.

Source: Vanguard, "How death of Tupac’s mother can set off estate battle," Ayabo Aina, accessed Jan. 06, 2017

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