The world is still heartbroken over the news of Bobbi Kristina Brown’s death. At just 22 years of age, Whitney Houston’s precious daughter spent six months in critical condition after being found unresponsive in a bathtub — circumstances eerily similar to those of her own mother’s death, and almost three years to the day.
Fans and admirers hoped for the best as the Houston/Brown family prayed for Brown’s recovery. Sadly, the young woman lost her battle in late July.
Now, as investigators continue their search for answers about the cause of death, Bobbi Kristina’s family will face new questions about the outcome of her estate.
According to WealthManagement.com, Whitney Houston left the entirety of her enormous estate to Bobbi Kristina upon the former’s death in February 2012. The fortune was estimated at $20 million.
Houston didn’t leave a lump sum, though, opting instead for a spendthrift provision to ensure that the money would last a long time. Reportedly, Bobbi Kristina was to receive her inheritance in three installments, as follows:
• 10% at age 21
• 30% at age 25
• The remainder at age 30
Accordingly, the young woman had likely received just 10% of her estate prior to her death. Houston’s will reportedly stipulate that, should Bobbi Kristina die unmarried, childless, and intestate (without a valid will of her own), the remainder of Houston’s estate would be divided among her living relatives — including her famous mother, Cissy Houston.
Those terms might seem clear enough, but here is the problem: as Bobbi Kristina’s next of kin, her father Bobby Brown stands to inherit her entire estate (which, in addition to the Houston inheritance, reportedly includes valuable jewelry, cars, clothing, and real estate).
Bobby Brown, better known as the bad boy of early-90s hip hop and Whitney Houston’s ex-husband, had a notoriously stormy relationship with the late diva. Houston’s will did not include Bobby in the inheritance.
As if that weren’t complicated enough, Bobbi Kristina’s boyfriend, Nick Gordon, has now publicly claimed that he and Bobbi were actually married, a fact that — if true — would entitle him to a share of her estate in most states. Then again, if Gordon were to be implicated in Bobbi Kristina’s death — an allegation raised in numerous media reports and by members of the family’s inner circle but vehemently denied by Gordon and his representatives — most states would deny him that spousal privilege.
Of course, many questions remain. How did Bobbi Kristina die? Did she have a will of her own? Can Gordon present a valid birth certificate? Will Bobby Brown take legal action to wrest the family fortune from Cissy Houston, who has remained publicly at odds with Mr. Brown for some time?
Celebrity estates are almost always messy, owing in large part to their enormous size and the many parties potentially involved. Whitney Houston’s is no different.
As is often the case, though, much of the confusion could have been avoided with more comprehensive documentation. Houston’s estate plan clearly contemplated some contingencies — including Bobbi Kristina’s death — but was apparently not as specific as it could have been. It goes to show the value of careful contemplation for the future, especially where any meaningful or sizeable assets are involved.