6th Dec 2017

Successful musicians can seem larger than life.  But at the end of the day, they are humans just like the rest of us with many of the same problems and issues – including death and taxes.  They need to consider estate planning, just like other families do.  They need to consider business succession planning, just like other business owners do.

Rolling Stone described the band Steely Dan as follows:

Less a band than a concept, Steely Dan was one of the most advanced, successful, and mysterious pop units of the 1970s. Combining pop hooks with jazz harmonies, complicated time changes and cryptic, often highly ironic lyrics, the band sounded like no one else. Because of the perfectionism of founders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, the outfit rarely toured, and toward the end, was composed almost entirely of session musicians . . .   (Read the whole article here.)

Founder Walter Becker died recently.  And it appears that the Steely Dan members, while notoriously tedious in their music and recording, may not have been as detailed-oriented in their estate and business planning.

Reports have surfaced that the family and estate of the deceased Becker have challenged founder Donald Fagen’s continued touring as Steely Dan, and Fagan has filed suit in response.  At the center of the controversy appears to be a buy-sell agreement – which will affect numerous issues such as ownership and control of the band and its assets, income/profits, touring, and particularly at odds at the moment: use of the website.  The existence of the agreement is potentially a good sign, in that there was some planning to work from, but the agreement was older and may have had other problems. Court documents indicate Steely Dan may have been incorporated and Becker may have had a trust.  It is unclear if and how this all fits together.

The situation is a reminder that estate planning is key.  This is true for almost everyone.  As frequently mentioned on this blog, estate planning is as much about end of life decisions, help when you need it, and other important life issues as it is about property.  But the need for estate planning is heightened in situations where businesses and unique assets are involved.

[PS – I considered using the alternate or sub-title: Rikki Don’t Lose That Number – It’s a Good Estate Planning Attorney.  But I thought it might be worse that Reelin’ in the Lawsuits and some of the other puns already out there.]

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information.

This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author – not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.

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