Although our Oakland County readers would have to be of a certain generation and have a certain musical taste to know who Adam Yauch was, some interesting news has developed in the wake of his recent and untimely death which could shed some light on key aspects of estate planning. Yauch was more popularly known as MCA, a founding member of the iconic and genre shattering group known as the Beastie Boys. The group's music developed an intense following beginning in the 1980's, and they became even more famous because they were some of the first Caucasian rappers to gain mainstream credibility. Mega-stars like Detroit native Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, have said that the Beastie Boys were a huge influence and inspiration to them.
Unfortunately, Yauch died in May of this year of cancer, at the too young age of 47. His untimely death was mourned throughout the world of music. But, as it turns out, he is continuing to influence the music industry even after his death, as his will specifically demands that, "In no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes." The will was recently filed with a court in Manhattan.
This small clause in Yauch's will reflects a continuing divide in the music industry, as many musicians seek to expand their revenue and influence by cooperating with product promotion using their songs. Yauch was never in favor of the use of his music in this way, and his will spells out his wishes that this type of use continue to be restricted even after his death.
The other members of the Beastie Boys are apparently in favor of the will's provision, having recently filed suit, with Yauch's widow, to stop what they claim to be an unauthorized use of some of their music by the makers of a popular energy drink company.
This case shows how a will can be used not only to designate property distribution, but to inform relatives and beneficiaries of the wishes they would like carried out even after death. While a will is the bedrock of solid estate planning, Yauch has shown that it can accomplish more than simply distributing assets and personal property.
Source: 5 NBC Chicago, "Beastie Boys Rapper's Will Bars Use of His Work in Ads," Jennifer Peltz, Aug. 11, 2012