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MARILYN MONROE’S ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKE – MOST GOES TO ACTRESS SHE MAY HAVE NEVER MET

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but actress Anna Strasberg (who some say Monroe never met or only met once) received much more than that from the legendary actress – even though that was probably not Monroe’s intention.

Monroe, who died in 1962, left her personal effects plus 75% of her residuary estate (the balance after bequests to various individuals including $100,000 in trust for her mother) outright to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, in her Last Will and Testament. Her estate was not settled for approximately 40 years for many reasons (a Will contest by Monroe’s former business manager, right of publicity litigation since those rights fall under state law and the publicity right produced $7 million of annual revenue, the rights to a copyright of her photo standing over a New York subway with her skirt blowing, etc.). Monroe was married and divorced three times (including baseball Hall of Famer, Joe DiMaggio and legendary playwright, Arthur Miller). She had no children. Monroe was close with Strasberg’s first wife, Paula, but Paula predeceased her husband. Lee Strasberg then died in 1982 leaving the assets to his second wife, Anna Mizrahi Strasberg.

The personal effects were sold at auction in 1999 netting Anna $12.3 million (after the lawsuit against Monroe’s former business manager who previously contested the Will and tried to auction personal effects of Monroe). Anna also made millions from licensing deals for publicity rights and products bearing the image of Monroe through Marilyn Monroe, LLC. In year 2010, Marilyn Monroe, LLC was sold to Authentic Brands and NECA for approximately $50 million. Anna is presently 82 years old.

It is highly unlikely Monroe intended for Anna to be her primary beneficiary (some say she never met Anna). Monroe could have created a trust within her Will to dictate how her assets would pass after Lee’s death. However, since it went to him outright, he could do with his estate whatever he wanted.

If interested in learning more about this article or other estate planning, Medicaid and public benefits planning, probate, etc., attend one of our free upcoming virtual Estate Planning Essentials workshops by clicking here or calling 214-720-0102.  We make it simple to attend and it is without obligation.

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