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July 15, 2021

Estate-planning lessons from the King of Pop

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

What if I told you a man, already millions in debt, decided it was a good idea to wire $150,000 to a voodoo chief in Mali to allegedly ensure 25 of his enemies – a list that included Steven Spielberg – would soon die?

You’d tell me, That guy’s crazy and, under no circumstances, do I want his advice on my own finances, right?

Well, not so fast. Surely, Michael Jackson had his problems with money, but sees a financial lesson to be learned from his tragic death late last month.

As it turns out, Jackson had a great estate plan, one set up so iron-clad it’s hopeful to keep his post-death affairs out of the courts and from the public eye.

But you don’t have to have assets in excess of $500 million, Kiplinger warns, to cleverly plan for the future of your estate. The site lists a few lessons we can learn from Jackson, which includes a few no-brainer precautions the King of Pop undertook that most people simply neglect to carry-out.
Like, for example, writing a will. No kidding, right? But Kiplinger says many put off this basic financial chore until it’s too late, allowing a judge to divvy up your assets according to local law. Jackson was wise enough to split his estate the way he wanted it, reportedly between his kids, mother and selected charities.

Another forehead-slapping entry on the list is just as simple: name a guardian. In Jackson’s case, he preferred care of his children be passed onto his mother, Katherine, rather than Jackson’s second wife, the mother of two of his three kids. If he left this step out of arranging his estate, custody of Jackson’s kids would’ve likely gone to the ex-wife, who reportedly renounced her rights to the children years ago. 

In any case, be sure to check out the Kiplinger list for more lessons to be learned from Jackson’s estate planning which, unlike the man himself, appears to be rock-solid.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...