Now that Bobbi Kristina Brown has died after six months in a coma, let’s revisit what will happen to her estate and her mother’s estate, while also covering what she should have done differently. To recap, Bobbi Kristina was a month shy of 19 years old when Whitney died. Whitney’s 1993 will created a trust solely for the benefit of Bobbi Kristina. The trust distributed 10% of Whitney’s estate to Bobbi Kristina when she was 21 with the remainder to be distributed at the ages of 25 and 30. Bobbi Kristina received approximately $2 million on her 21st birthday. After Bobbi Kristina was found unconscious, her father (Bobby Brown) and grandmother (Cissy Houston) made her medical decisions for her somewhat contentiously.
What should have happened?
1. Whitney should have provided that her estate be distributed to her daughter at an age later than 21. I never draft trusts with such a young age for principal distribution.
2. When Bobbi Kristina received her first distribution from her trust, she should have created a will of her own which would have enabled her to leave her $2 million to her “husband”/adopted “brother”, Nick Gordon.
3. Upon turning 18, Bobbi Kristina should have executed a health care power of attorney, living will, HIPAA release, and financial power of attorney designating a specific family member to handle her affairs if she were disabled. I always recommend this for my clients whose children are heading off to college.
4. None of this was done. Of course, I doubt that basic estate planning was a priority for a family prone to alcohol and drug use while bathing.