I am not a fan of rap music. However, if I were to pick a favorite rap artist I might pick Tupac. He helped me see into a world I don’t understand. His song “Dear Mama” is worth listening to no matter your cultural presence. My favorite of his songs is “Ghetto Gospel”. This article is not, however, an attempt to convince anyone to listen to rap, other than the sound of a gavel in the courtroom that decided the fate of his estate.
On September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur was leaving a boxing event in Las Vegas when he was shot multiple times. Six days later, he was dead at 25. Tupac did not create a will, leaving his estate open to the intestacy process. His parents were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was born a month after his mother was acquitted of more than 150 charges of “Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks” in the Panther 21 case. While “Dear Mama” hints that Tupac’s father was either dead or dead to him, New Jersey trucker William Garland sought to inherit half of Shakur’s estate. Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur, vigorously opposed the claim, saying Garland was an absentee father who contributed little to Tupac’s upbringing.
Under the laws existing when Tupac was born, Garland should have received half of the rapper’s estate. However, California laws changed and the new law required Garland to show more than DNA evidence. Garland’s documented contributions to Tupac’s care “included $820, a bag of peanuts and a ticket to Rollerball.” Not enough, according to the court.
Most 25 year old people do not need a will. In fact, anyone who wants their estate to pass according to the intestacy rules does not ‘need’ a will. A will does offer you an opportunity to elect your own personal representative. Did Tupac want his estate to be split between his parents? I have no idea, but based on his music I think not. If the intestacy rules don’t work for you, then you need a will or a trust. I do not see the lack of a will as a ‘mistake’. It is an estate plan. But is it the estate plan you want? If not, take the time to create your intention. Why? To quote another rap artist I like, “cuz their ain’t no stallin’ when death comes callin'”.