David Bowie’s financial acumen sets an example

Music lovers in Missouri were likely saddened to hear that David Bowie had succumbed to cancer at the age of 69. The innovative and trendsetting star transformed popular music during a glittering career that spanned five decades, but financial experts are as impressed by Bowie’s financial acumen as his ability to reinvent himself artistically.

The information age has transformed the way people listen to and buy music, but Bowie’s heirs have been protected from the impact of digital streaming services like Napster by a savvy business decision the star made almost 20 years ago. Bowie had experienced financial difficulties in the 1970s and 1980s, and he was keen to avoid future money troubles when he approached investment bankers in New York in 1997. The star raised $55 million by selling bonds backed by his copyrights and future royalties. The 10-year bonds offered a 7.9 percent fixed-rate return and were purchased by an institutional investor.

Experts say that Bowie’s prudent planning and clever financial thinking could serve as an example to other entertainers. The heirs of music industry legends including John Lennon, Jim Morrissey and Tupac Shakur found themselves in unpleasant legal battles that occurred largely as a result of inadequate estate planning. Bowie is believed to have left behind an estate worth about $200 million.

While details of David Bowie’s estate planning have not been disclosed, experts believe that the interests of the star’s heirs will likely have been protected by revocable or irrevocable trusts. Estate planning attorneys can point out how trusts allow assets to be passed to heirs in a controlled manner. Trusts also allow these matters to be kept private and away from the public scrutiny of the probate process.

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