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By: Scott Grossman on August 24th, 2017

Estates of Dead Celebrities Continue Earning Millions

Each year, Forbes Magazine publishes its list of the top-earning dead celebrities. This list is comprised of people who earned a fortune not only during their lives but after death as well. The income generated annually by these individuals after death often amounts to more than most people will ever earn in an entire lifetime. It is important to note, that it is not just the rich and famous who are capable of earning income after death. People in charge of administering estates must take estate tax income issues into account when carrying out their responsibilities.

Top-Earning Dead Celebrities for 2015

How does Forbes decide who should be on their list of top earners after death? The list is based on the pre-tax earnings of a deceased individual from October 1st of one year to October 1st of the next. Recently, the magazine published its list of top earners for 2015.

The top deceased earners for 2015 include the following:

  1. Michael Jackson, the “king of pop”, at $115 million
  2. Elvis Presley, the “king of rock n’ roll”, at $55 million
  3. Charles Schulz, the creator of the popular comic strip “Peanuts”, at $40 million
  4. Bob Marley, famous reggae musician, at $21 million
  5. Elizabeth Taylor, legendry actress, at $20 million
  6. Albert Einstein, renowned scientist, at $11 million
  7. Paul Walker, famous actor, at $10.5 million

The celebrities who made it into the Forbes list are far from alone. Many other people go on to earn vast sums of money even after death, including Frank Sinatra, Bruce Lee, Joan Rivers, George Harrison, Richard Rodgers, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, and Kurt Cobain.

What Is Estate Income?

Essentially, estate income is any income that would have belonged to the deceased person. Estate income also includes any income that is generated by assets held in the estate. For celebrities, this may include the use of the individual’s likeness in marketing or product manufacturing or sales of an album or movie tickets. For average individuals, estate income can take many different forms.

Common Examples of Estate Income

  1. Rent earned from real estate
  2. Salary earned by the decedent before he or she died
  3. Interest generated from an estate’s bank account

Understanding what to do with all of this income presents numerous issues. For example, estate income tax returns may need to be filed. Whether the person in charge of administering the estate has to file an income tax return depends on whether the estate had gross income for the tax year of $600 or more or whether the estate has a beneficiary who is a nonresident alien of the United States.

If you have never administered an estate in the past, you may feel overwhelmed by the challenges presented. Fortunately, we are here to help. We encourage you to contact us today at (888) 443-6590 for more information.

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