Celebrities’ photos cause estate plan challenges


The next time you look in the mirror, ask yourself, “What is your image worth?”

As reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, the IRS is contending that Michael Jackson’s “image and likeness” is worth more than $430 million. It’s seeking more than $700 million in additional taxes and penalties from Jackson’s estate over this and various other valuation issues.

This new position by the IRS – that a celebrity’s image is an asset of their estate – has caught estate planners totally by surprise. The IRS has raised the issue in the Jackson estate without any prior notification or guidance as to how to value an image.

Athletes, performers and others with famous faces may be facing an estate planning challenge. If the IRS succeeds, many will need more life insurance to cover the additional estate tax.

“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make the change. You’ve got to get it right while you’ve got the time.” – Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett – “Man in the Mirror,” performed by Michael Jackson