What you do with your money after death is a tough question to answer. Do you want to bestow it all to a loved one? Part it out to friends or important causes? There are endless possibilities when it comes to willing your possessions, and that means some people get creative with their wills—especially wealthy celebrities.
Most billionaires, millionaires, and megastars of the last century made plans for their fortunes after their passing. But just because they had massive estates doesn’t mean they shared it all with their loved ones; in fact, what these 20 celebrities proposed for their fortunes might surprise you.
1. Oprah Winfrey: One of the richest women on the planet’s got big plans for her $3 billion fortune. With no kids of her own, the television personality and businesswoman set aside $30 million for her five pooches.
2. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis: The Hollywood couple plans on donating their fortune to charity when they die. Their kids—Wyatt and Dimitri—won’t get much. But don’t worry, they don’t plan on leaving their kids high and dry! Kutcher expressed interest in investing in any of his kid’s passions and projects when they’re older.
3. Marilyn Monroe: This famous face stunned the world when she left her estate to her acting coach and father figure, Lee Strasberg. He spoke at her funeral, saying, “Marilyn Monroe was a legend… For the entire world, she became a symbol of the eternal feminine.”
4. Bill Gates: You’d think the Microsoft founder worth $87 billion would shower his kids in gold upon his death. Instead, he plans on leaving most of his fortune to various charities and has encouraged other wealthy folk to behave similarly.
5. Freddy Mercury: Queen’s frontman, and rock ‘n’ roll legend, left most of his estate to his ex-girlfriend Mary Austin and not his boyfriend, Jim Hulton. In addition, he had her bury his ashes in a secret location that she has never divulged.
6. Martin Luther King Jr.: After taking a bullet in the middle of his fight for civil rights, the Noble Peace Prize winner’s estate was assumed by a non-profit organization. The family then embarked on a near-endless, bitter legal battle for the rights to it, which led to the sale of most of Dr. King’s intellectual properties.
7. Simon Cowell: He played the cold judge on American Idol, but his three dogs—Squiddly, Diddly, and Freddy—warm his heart. Instead of leaving his $550 million to his son, he’s donating it to foundations that work with dogs and kids.
8. Hugh Hefner: The founder of Playboy left his giant estate to his last wife, Crystal, and his four children. But there was one caveat: If any of them abused drugs or alcohol, they lost all access to the money.
9. Warren Buffet: The businessman worth $78.9 billion, right, plans on donating 83 percent of his estate to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And for his kids? They’ll get enough to be comfortable, but not enough to stop working.
10. Sting: The rock star, right, accrued $200 million as the frontman of The Police, but it’s not going to his six kids. Sting plans on spending it all before he’s gone, maybe enjoying more nights out with Brad Pitt or Jennifer Aniston.
11. Janis Joplin: The young rock singer died at 27 because of substance abuse issues, but she made sure to leave behind $2,500 for her friends to throw a big goodbye party. Her friends had the bash at The Lion’s Share Pub in California in 1970.
12. Robert Kardashian Sr.: The father of Kourtney, Khloé, Kim, and Rob made a fortune as an attorney and businessman, but before his death, he claims that his ex-wife took all of it. So the Kardashians got nothing from him—not that they needed it!
13. Dusty Springfield: The 1960s pop star gave specific instructions on how to care for her cat, Nicholas, in her will. She requested he be fed imported baby food, be sung to sleep by her records, and be married to a friend’s cat. All requests were granted, though the marriage was not legally binding… because, you know, cats.
14. Adam Yauch: MCA of the Beastie Boys couldn’t stand the thought of his likeness or works appearing in commercials. He used his will to ban both the band’s music and his own image from ever appearing in an advertisement.
15. James Brown: The family of the soul icon ended up in court after he died suddenly in 2006. See, they expected to receive some of his $100 million estate, but he secretly willed it to underprivileged kids in Georgia and South Carolina.
16. Richard Harrison: The best deal Pawn Stars‘ “Old Man” could get for his son Christopher was… nothing. Yeah, upon his death, Harrison’s youngest son received nothing—a strange development, since the Old Man put such a focus on family on the show.
17. Alexander McQueen:The fashion world mourned when the brilliant designer took his own life in 2010. In the end, he donated his fortune to the bright spots in his dark-and-cloudy life: his dogs! Indeed, he was just another man who loved his pets.
18. Harry Houdini: The legendary illusionist couldn’t escape death, but his will certainly made an effort to do so. In it, he instructed his wife, Bess, right, to hold a yearly séance so they could communicate. According to Bess, Houdini never made contact.
19. Michael Bloomberg: The former New York City mayor and renowned businessman has amassed $49 billion over his lifetime, but only half’s going to his daughters, Georgina and Emma. The rest is reserved for charity.
20. Prince: One of rock ‘n’ roll’s most influential artists, far right, passed in 2016—and he never drew up a proper will! So, without any kids to turn to, authorities split his $300 million estate between his eight siblings.
No doubt, these wealthy folks have found interesting ways to pass on their wealth. Crazy what insights you can get about a person from seeing how they spend their money after death.
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