Whitney Houston had her fair share of chart-toppers, even posthumously on iTunes and Amazon, and though the superstar’s finances took a hit during her personal struggles, it is still believed to be a substantial estate that will only get larger.
While there were recent reports that Houston was struggling financially, the sales of her music after her death will improve the condition of her estate, as will the fact that she’ll no longer be burning through cash. Michael Jackson sold over 8 million albums in the U.S. alone in the six months after his death, and close to 30 million worldwide.
Although details of her estate and will have not been made public it is believed that her only child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, will be the main beneficiary. Houston had a will and the estate process is ongoing, according to a source familiar with her affairs.
Zach Greenburg, Forbes writer, said Whitney Houston will not match Jackson’s postmortem earnings, but if her music sells even half as well as Jackson’s did, her artist royalties alone could bring the estate more than $10 million in the coming year.
Houston made millions for her roles in “The Bodyguard” in 1992 and “The Preacher’s Wife” in 1996, the latter for which she reportedly earned $10 million. And in 2001, Houston renewed her contact with Arista Records, signing a $100 million deal, one of the biggest recording deals in the history of the music business, Variety reported at the time. The deal called for at least six albums and two greatest-hits compilations. Her comeback album, “I Look to You,” was released in 2009.
Houston is the 20th top-selling artist in the U.S. of all time, selling 55 million records, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The single, “I Will Always Love You,” from “The Bodyguard” soundtrack is the longest running number one single from a soundtrack album.
Houston’s “Nothing but Love” world tour, from December 2009 through June 2010, was her last. The tour, her first in ten years, grossed millions of dollars.
Keith Caulfield, Billboard’s associate director of charts, said while Houston’s sales will not come close to the financial success of Michael Jackson, who had publishing, song-writing and recording royalties, her greatest hits album will re-enter Billboard’s Top 10 chart possibly this week. Already, 50,000 were sold in the first day or two after her death.
However, Caulfield said it is difficult to estimate how much Houston will receive because how her contract was structured is unknown.
“Certainly, we would expect that her estate won’t be broke,” said Andrew Mayoras, attorney and co-author of the book, Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, even if the reports of her financial struggles were true.
A source familiar with Houston’s financial situation told ABCNews.com that “she was far from broke.”
The surging sales of Whitney Houston’s music may be a large boost to her estate, as with other artists after they have passed away. Jimi Hendrix is an example of an estate which grew from almost nothing into a huge, multi-million dollar venture, said Mayoras.
Houston also completed the filming of “Sparkle,” produced by Sony’s TriStar Pictures, and it is scheduled to be released in September. Houston plays the mother of “American Idol’s” Jordin Sparks in the film.
Andrew Katzenstein, estate lawyer with Proskauer Rose LLP in Los Angeles, said it is difficult to estimate her royalties because her earnings will be multiplied by an unknown formula, possibly dependent on the recent sales of her songs. He also said her earnings could be less with digital distribution, through services like iTunes.
“But she’s an international star, and her music was fantastic,” Katzenstein said.
Like other celebrities, Houston also had public financial and legal tangles, including struggling with drugs and alcohol. After her divorce with R&B artist, Bobby Brown, in 2007, Brown reportedly sued Houston for custody and spousal support.
Bobby Brown said he was “deeply saddened at the passing of my ex-wife.”
“At this time, we ask for privacy, especially for my daughter, Bobbi- Kristina,” he said in a statement. “I appreciate all of the condolences that have been directed towards my family and I at this most difficult time.”
Her stepmother sued Houston over a $1 million life insurance policy from her late father, John Houston.
Houston had lent her father $723,800 in August 1990 for the purchase and renovation of a home in New Jersey in which he lived with his wife, Barbara. When John Houston died in February 2003, he bequeathed all his assets to his widow.
“Although Barbara and Whitney may be considered stepmother and daughter, that relationship never really jelled,” the court filing stated.
Barbara inherited the property, though Whitney owned the mortgage on the house and was the named life insurance beneficiary. But Barbara claimed the life insurance money was meant to repay Whitney for that mortgage. When Whitney refused to credit the life insurance money against the mortgage, Barbara sued in 2008.
Though the case was finally dismissed in December, Houston’s attorney, Bryan Blaney, told ABC News on Monday Houston had planned to file a complaint to have her stepmother evicted from the property.
“It’s no different that it’s her property, or the property of her estate, which would go to her daughter or whoever her beneficiary is,” Blaney said.
Blaney said the complaint was prepared before Houston’s death but it has not been filed for reasons “unrelated to anything of significance.” He said he expects to be updated by her manager.
“I don’t think there will be any reason not to file the complaint,” Blaney said. “I can only tell you there’s a whole lot of things going on with the folks right now in regards to her manager and family members.”
Blaney said he was “devastated” by the loss of Houston, who was a “tremendous” person.
“I always thought it was sad that people would reach out to make her life more difficult than it needed to be,” he said. “I always found her to be a sensitive and nice person and whatever issues she might have had, I can’t comment. I don’t know them.”
Blaney represented Houston to dismiss the charge of drug possession in her suitcase at an airport in Hawaii in 2000.
“I think she became an easy target for tabloids,” he said. “There were instances that were plainly unfair in tabloid editions of her just to sell newspapers.”
Barbara Houston, who declined to comment, continues to reside in the property in Fort Lee, N.J., her attorney, Gilberto Garcia, said.
“It’s a sad thing what happened for everyone involved,” Garcia said of Whitney Houston’s death. “She was a great figure and a great voice. She was a good daughter to her father.”
Garcia said Barbara Houston sent condolences to Houston’s attorney.
“My client is quite shaken up by this,” Garcia said. “I don’t know that the case matters much in comparison to everything that’s going on.”
Mayoras said he assumes Houston used life insurance of some type to protect her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, regardless of reports of any financial struggles.
The state of the multiple Grammy and Billboard music award winner’s finances are unknown at the time of her unexpected death. Her estate will profit from royalties for future sales of her songs, as well as licensing deals for her name, image and likeness.
Ideally, Houston would have set up at least a revocable living trust to provide for her daughter, so she doesn’t receive everything at once, Mayoras said.
“Most people with even a modest amount of wealth use trusts to control how and when their money is passed,” he said. “For example, we would hope Whitney would have spaced out Bobbi Kristina’s distributions over time, so that she would receive a percentage as she reaches certain ages. Most 18-year-olds are not mature enough to handle a substantial inheritance.”
Ideally, Whitney would have named a trust as the beneficiary of any life insurance, Mayoras said. Otherwise the money would go directly to the named beneficiary, possibly Bobbi-Kristina.
Depending on whether updated she updated her documents after her divorce from Bobby Brown, there could be complications if he is named as a beneficiary, Mayoras said.
“Hopefully, she would have taken steps to update her documents to eliminate anything going to Bobby Brown, ” Mayoras said, “unless, of course, she wanted him to receive something. But many people don’t take the time to update their estate planning documents after a divorce.”
Houston did sell a home in Alpharetta, Ga. for $1.19 million in May 2007, shortly after the divorce, for which Houston had received a notice of default. Houston bought the home in 2003 for $1.38 million by taking out a 15-year mortgage for $1.1 million, according to public records. The home was where the 2005 reality television show, “Being Bobby Brown,” was filmed. Houston had a county tax lien on the property for $17,644 in December 2005, according to public records.
Houston had a handful of properties that she unloaded or tried to unload recently. She also sold a house in Mendham, N.J. for $940,000 in January 2010. She also listed another home in Mendham for $2.5 million in 2009, Zillow reported. Houston reportedly owned a home in New Bergen, N.J. that she bought in 1989 for $955,000.
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While I must admit I wasn’t a large follower of Ms. Houston, I can tell in the amount of reviews, blogs and posts that there have been many people who have been very keen on her. It is indeed my hope that good quality may come out of this tragedy which it’ll keep others from making exactly the same mistakes.
Like a life insurance coverage fanatic, the very first factor that found my thoughts was I question just how much life insurance coverage this 48yr old lady had and when she’d done any estate planning. When individuals die this youthful, many occasions estate planning hasn’t entered their mind. You will find lots of tales available that highlight this statement. Actually, we’ve used this fact in our marketing pieces. It’s known as Much More Training From Notoriously Bad Estate Planning and that we provide to financial experts hoping that they’ll make use of the details to assist them to convince their customers to organize. The piece does the selling for you personally! You create it for your customers plus they take about ten minutes to take a look and you request these to let you know about their estate planning. Hopefully they let you know their exact plans. Odds are they cannot. Otherwise, guess what happens to complete next.
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.
Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.
News of Houston’s death came on the eve of music’s biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It’s a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday’s ceremony. Houston’s longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward.
“I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney’s passing,” music producer Quincy Jones said in a written statement. “I always regretted not having had the opportunity to work with her. She was a true original and a talent beyond compare. I will miss her terribly.”
At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.
Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.”
She had the he perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.
She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.
But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.
“The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.
It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.
She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.
Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.
“The time that I first saw her singing in her mother’s act in a club … it was such a stunning impact,” Davis told “Good Morning America.”
“To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine,” he added.
Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with “Whitney Houston,” which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. “Saving All My Love for You” brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. “How Will I Know,” ”You Give Good Love” and “The Greatest Love of All” also became hit singles.
Another multiplatinum album, “Whitney,” came out in 1987 and included hits like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
The New York Times wrote that Houston “possesses one of her generation’s most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity.”
Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the “Soul Train Awards” in 1989.
“Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?” she told Katie Couric in 1996. “You’re not black enough for them. I don’t know. You’re not R&B enough. You’re very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them.”
Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop’s pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.
But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.
“When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from the same place,” she told Rolling Stone in 1993. “You see somebody, and you deal with their image, that’s their image. It’s part of them, it’s not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody’s angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy.”
It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America’s sweetheart.
In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with “The Bodyguard.” Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international success.
It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy’s record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the “Bodyguard” soundtrack was named album of the year.
She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with “Waiting to Exhale” and “The Preacher’s Wife.” Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, “My Love Is Your Love,” in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.”
But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time “The Preacher’s Wife” was released, “(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. … I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. … I wasn’t happy by that point in time. I was losing myself.”
In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.
Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.
She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert that rumors spread she had died the next day. Her crude behavior and jittery appearance on Brown’s reality show, “Being Bobby Brown,” was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where she declared “crack is whack,” was often parodied. She dropped out of the spotlight for a few years.
Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009 album “I Look To You.” The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum.
Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on “Good Morning America” went awry as Houston’s voice sounded ragged and off-key. She blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.
A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Canceled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.