Real Life Lessons: Whitney Houston’s Will and Bobbi Kristina Brown’s Tragedy

Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown passed away recently. As details emerge, it seems apparent that Whitney Houston’s will stands at the root of this latest family misfortune. Reports suggest that Whitney Houston left behind an estate worth $20 million, and Bobbi Kristina Brown was the sole beneficiary. Ten percent of the estate money passed on to Bobbi Kristina when she turned 21, with another $3 million scheduled for her 25th birthday. The trustees originally named—Bobbi Kristina’s aunt and grandmother—feared that a young Bobbi Kristina was not prepared to handle such large sums of money at a young age.

They filed a court proceeding asking to rewrite the will, “based on Whitney Houston’s true intentions to safeguard the money until Bobbi Kristina was older. In the filing, the trustees expressed their concerns that Bobbi Kristina’s well-being may be jeopardized if she was allowed to have so much money at the young age of 21.”
In hindsight, their intentions were not only good, but their concerns were legitimate. The trustees had to withdraw the filing because courts are required to follow the terms of the will and documents, not the supposed intention of the deceased. There is no way to say whether or not Bobbi Kristina’s death could have been prevented by delaying the funds until she was older, but new lawsuits suggest money may have played a significant role in her death. Nick Gordon, Bobbi Kristina’s boyfriend, is accused of assault and battery, fraud, stalking, and more. Allegations include claims that, “Gordon perpetrated a scheme to benefit from [Bobbi Kristina’s] wealth including routinely transferring a large portion of Brown’s funds into his own bank account, without her permission…he also threatened and stalked one of the trustees leading to a restraining order, and allegedly took out $11,000 from [Bobbi Kristina’s] account while she was in a coma.” The allegations include claims that Gordon’s violence against Bobbi Kristina includes injuries that led to her death. Clearly no trust can protect someone from malicious and violent behavior, but inheriting money at a young age can have serious consequences.

Whitney Houston could never have known that her daughter would be at such risk when the will was originally created in 1993. But the fallout should be a lesson to others that it is extremely important to create and update documents for a will accordingly to help beneficiaries. Passing along large sums of money to a young beneficiary can put that individual at risk. Good estate planning can enable your will to help beneficiaries receive funds when they can be used most effectively. Our advisors at Apex Financial can help you protect your family’s assets. Our wealth of experience insures that no matter how much money you leave behind, it goes to the best possible use to make the best possible impact.