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The 33rd anniversary of the death of Bob Marley recently passed. Meanwhile, the fight over the estate of Mr. Marley, who died on May 11th, 1981, continues in the English courts. Ownership of some of the songs written and recorded by Bob Marley will be argued at the Chancery Division of the High Court in London. Two of Marley’s best-known songs, No Woman, No Cry and War, are at stake.
Marley was a musical pioneer with his reggae music that gained an international following. However, Mr. Marley did not leave a will, apparently because of his religious beliefs. The Rastafarian view of death and the afterlife kept Mr. Marley from any estate planning. In the Rastafarian belief, life is eternal and reincarnation is imminent.
As a result he created a lengthy probate mess that has continued for decades and is not over yet. There have been numerous lawsuits and probate court proceedings in Jamaica, the United Kingdom, and in the United States.
It is said that Mr. Marley’s net worth in life reached an estimated $30 million, but the value of his estate continued to grow after his death. It is estimated that in 2012 alone the Marley estate produced about $18 million.
All the fighting over money seems ironic given the messages of peace and love that Mr. Marley spread through his music. Much of the fighting could have been prevented with some good estate planning. Even if he could not execute a last will and testament, a living trust could have helped avoid the many legal battles over his estate.