Amazon, Google and taxes, oh my!
Whistleblower group urges UBS review

The everlasting Elvis (and his estate)

Yesterday would have been The King's 75th birthday. I thought of you Elvis, but this Jan. 8 was a crazy day and I just never got around to wishing you all the best.

I'm sure if you're alive, you'll understand. Things kind of got out of control for you now and then. And if you're dead, I hope you're not spending eternity worrying about such inconsequential earthly issues.

Mirror-cover_Bubba_Ho-Tep Regardless of whether you believe Elvis is rocking out on another plane of existence or still enjoying fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches (for energy in his battles against an ancient evil from an East Texas nursing home, perhaps?) one thing is for sure: As an officially deceased celebrity, he's still making a whole lot of money.

Elvis Aron Presley's estate earned $55 million last year. Nice, but not enough to keep him on top. The King was dethroned as Forbes' top-earning dead celebrity. He came in fourth on the magazine's annual list.

No, it wasn't that other member of musical royalty that took the top spot. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop (and for a brief time Elvis' son-in-law), came in third. After his untimely death last year, Jackson's estate brought in $90 million.

Musical stylists of a different sort came in second. Combined earnings on the rights to compositions by the legendary Broadway songwriting duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein earned $235 million in 2009. Yep, there's a reason we still hum classics from shows like Oklahoma, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music.

So which celebrity's estate earned the most last year? Yves Saint Laurent. A three-day estate sale of the French fashion designer's art, antiques and furniture last February brought in $443 million.

No estate tax, but estate planning still important: While you and I aren't going to earn now or in the afterlife anywhere near the kind of money these deceased icons did, everyone still needs to take care of estate planning.

No, you can't blow it off because that's what Congress did to the estate tax. Although it's officially out of the tax code right now (thanks to Senate inaction), Washington lawmakers swear they'll reinstate the estate tax retroactively soon after they reconvene late this month.

In fact, the lack of an estate tax could cause even more problems for heirs who want to sell some assets they were bequeathed. But with or without the tax, the key is to plan.

So if you haven't done anything with regard to what will eventually happen to your assets, set up a meeting with an estate tax expert ASAP. And keep an eye on Capitol Hill.

Racing break: Yesterday I also ran across the great photo below (courtesy fellow blogger and Twitter pal @SheilaS) of one racer's philosophy, spelled out on his trailer, that captures exactly where Elvis still ranks for many.


For NASCAR drivers, keeping The King's birthday sacred generally isn't a problem, especially since the sport ended pre- (or any) season testing a couple of years ago.

But it's a nice segue to my latest racing column for a couple of Randall-Reilly magazines. In the January issues of Truckers News and Changing Lanes, my Views from the Grandstands and Crazy Woman Driver columns examine ways to make the Chase for the Championship better.

Related posts:

Want to tell your friends about this blog post? Click the Tweet This or Digg This buttons below or use the Share This icon to spread the word via e-mail, Facebook and other popular applications. Thanks!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.