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Nelson Mandela’s Estate: Will There Be a Battle of Heirs?

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Shutterstock/Neftali

Shutterstock/Neftali

Not long after the death of Nelson Mandela came speculation about the settling of his estate — and early guesses are predicting a battle among his heirs.

Mandela was married twice, first to Evelyn Mase and then to Winnie Madikizela, leaving behind “more than 30 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren,” according to Reuters, which could mean a long, drawn-out, and potentially contentious struggle over Mandela’s estate and legacy.

Before his death, Mandela set up various trust funds and charitable foundations, the control of which may be in dispute among heirs who were not involved or included in Mandela’s planning. The future use of Mandela’s name, likeness, and image are also possible points of contention, particularly as two of Mandela’s granddaughters have already developed a reality show (“Being Mandela”) while other heirs have ventured into various businesses from clothing lines to wine labels.

The exact value of Mandela’s estate is unknown, but between properties, book sale royalties, trademarks, copyrights, and brands, there is certainly plenty to fight over — for those who might choose to do so. One of the primary components of the estate is the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which currently owns various intellectual property related to the Mandela brand and reportedly earned about $2.2 million in 2012.

When Mandela fell ill in the summer of 2013, reports surfaced that he had created a handwritten will in 1996 that expressed his desire to buried in Quru, the rural village in which he was born; there has been no report that a subsequent will was ever drafted or what other provisions a Mandela will might contain.

As with many estate contests, a major issue will likely be whether Mandela was competent, of sound mind, and not unduly influenced when signing key estate planning documents — and all this means that eventually, a judge may end up having a major say in Mandela’s legacy as well.

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January 8th, 2014 at 9:55 am

Posted in Estate Planning

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