Celebrity Estate Planning - Tina Turner - Episode 102
Hey there, Legal Tea Listeners! This is your host, Jenny Rozelle. Today, we’re on the “estate planning of the rich and famous” topic and for today’s episode, we’re going to dive into what happened following the death of Tina Turner – who should need absolutely no introduction, in my opinion. I was going to start the intro music to the episode with her song, Proud Mary, … but I’m not that fancy and I don’t know how to do that without putting time into it, so you get the same ol’ intro music as always. Anyway, obviously, Tina was a singer (she did do a little acting too, I suppose!) – and many call her the “Queen of Rock and Roll.” Her passing was NOT long ago – like about a month ago, honestly, but I thought discussing her family setup would be a great follow-up to last week’s Legal Tea episode, which primarily talked about blended families, because that will likely be a “hot topic” in Tina’s estate. So, before we dive into estate stuff, let’s talk a little about Tina, as a person, to understand who she was, her family, etc.
Let’s kick things off with a fun fact – According to her Wikipedia page, Tina Turner was not the name she was born with; she was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in Brownsville, Tennessee. She had a little bit of a rocky family setup – while her parents were together when she was born, they ended up separating – her Mom left without notice and booked it to St. Louis; her Dad ended up remarrying and moved to Detroit; and so with those changes, Tina and her siblings moved in with their mother’s mom, their grandmother, and were able to remain in Brownsville, Tennessee. Though, rocky-ness did not end there because when Tina was 16, her grandmother (the one she was living with) died, so she ended up having to uproot and move to St. Louis.
In the late 1950s, Tina and her sister began hitting the nightclub scene in St. Louis and that is where/when she met Ike Turner, who would later become her first husband. Tina and Ike crossing paths really is what started Tina’s career in music. Not only did she become a vocalist in Ike’s band, Kings of Rhythm, but her and Ike ended up becoming quite a duo releasing several HUGE hits. They ended up getting married in 1962 – Though, things, including their music, came to a screeching halt in the 1970s when there was “trouble in paradise” in Ike and Tina’s marriage. In mid-1976, on a flight from LA to Dallas, Ike and Turner got into a physical altercation after landing in Dallas, and according to her Wikipedia page, “[Tina] fled from Ike with only 36 cents and a Mobil gas card and later hid at the Ramada Inn across the freeway.” That happened on July 1, 1976 and by the end of July, Tina filed divorce which ended up becoming final in early 1978.
Then, the early 1980s hit and did she make a heck of a comeback or what? She put her head down, got to work, and rebounded beautifully. She started by doing TV shows like Hollywood Squares, Sonny & Cher Show, Donny & Marie, Saturday Night Live, etc.; she ended up releasing another album (called Rough) which actually didn’t receive a ton of attention; she ended up signing with Capitol Records; and finally in 1984, she hit it big – her song, What’s Love Got to Do With It, hit #1 on the Billboard. From there, things just started really movin’ and groovin’. Like, for the 27th Annual Grammy Awards, Tina brought home three Grammys, including the Record of the Year for “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” So, really in the 1980s, her solo career just absolutely peaked! This is also when she ended up meeting Erwin Bach, who was a German music executive, and after 27 years of a relationship, they got married in mid-2013 in Switzerland.
Tina was also a mother – she had two biological sons, Raymond (who she did not have with Ike) and Ronnie (and who she DID have with Ike), and two children she adopted, who were biological kids of Ike Turner (her first husband) and their names were Ike Turner, Jr. and Michael. Ike actually adopted Raymond (since again Raymond was not his biological child) and they changed his name to Craig Raymond. Tragically, in 2018, Craig passed away due to an apparent suicide. According to her Wikipedia page, after time passed and life happened, “Ike Turner Jr. stated that he and his brothers have a distant relationship with their mother.” It further shares that, “[Tina] wrote in her autobiography that after her divorce she became ‘a little bit estranged’ from all her sons except Craig.” So, it seems that their family setup and dynamic became a little bit strained after the divorce happened, and after life happened.
Beginning in 1978, Tina’s health really was not the greatest. She battled high blood pressure, which ultimately became problematic to her kidneys. In 2013, she had a stroke and had to learn to walk again. In 2016, she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. She was put through the ringer, to say the least, and eventually, her husband at the time, Erwin Bach, donated his kidney to her in 2017. Though, her life came to end in May 2023 when she died in her home in Switzerland at the age of 83 years old. At the time of her passing, her total estate was estimated to be worth around $250 Million Dollars, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com.
Sadly, before I dive into estate stuff for Tina, her son, Ronnie, which is the son she shared with Ike Turner, passed away less than 6 months before she passed away. That is likely to pose an issue, whether it gets settled quickly or not, in Tina’s estate because oftentimes in estate planning, there are provisions in place for what happens if a beneficiary either passed away before you or after you (and especially within that short period of a time of Tina’s passing). Anyway, this could become something that is dealt with because Tina’s only biological grandchildren come from Ronnie – Tina had two grandchildren, Randy and Raquel, which were Ronnie’s children. So, now that Ronnie has passed away, we’ll have to see if Randy and Raquel are entitled to anything from Tina’s estate. What this all means is that Tina’s two biological sons, Craig Raymond and Ronnie, both predeceased her, which leaves her two adopted sons, Ike Turner Jr. and Michael, as the possible beneficiaries (along with her husband, Erwin Bach, of course) – which is ironic a bit, right.
It's ironic because those closest family-wise to Tina at Tina’s passing are her husband, Erwin, her two grandchildren, Randy and Raquel (which there are claims that she never met or barely knew), and her two sons that she adopted from her first husband, Ike Jr. and Michael. Talk about a lot to keep track! I actually found a handy little family tree on the Page Six article I have linked in the source links – so if you’re confused as to who-is-who, check that article out! They also have a lot of great pictures to put faces-to-names – like there’s an adorable picture of the four boys when they were young. When I say four boys, I meant Tina’s four sons (both biologically and adopted).
According to the PageSix article, even though Ronnie has passed away, his wife, Afida, is still “in the picture” with the family and what’s going on, and she share that it is said that Tina’s second husband, Erwin, will be inheriting half of Tina’s hefty estate. When asked about who would inherit the rest, Afida said it was not clear. All of that was reported in very late May/early June, so as we sit here today in late June, really not an absolute ton has hit the news and/or happened, but so far, things to be okay and fine. I read a few times through my research that because of Tina Turner’s not-great health for several years leading up to her death, she began tying up loose ends and was actively trying to get her estate to a place to minimize or eliminate family fighting and family drama. I so, so, so hope that happens – and that things are spelled out so beautifully, that it’s a matter of merely following the instructions she left. Though, because she honestly passed away just about a month ago, the cynical part of my brain says, “Oh just wait, Jenny, there will be something eventually!” We’ll just have to wait and see, my friends.
I don’t know if you have listened to the episode on here on Betty White, but following Betty White’s passing, her Estate honestly stayed out of the news and as an estate planning attorney, that makes things were on lockdown and things were or are being administered privately without being blasted all over the news and online. That’s wonderful for the estate and family, right? That tells me that Betty White not only had a solid plan, but she must have carefully and proactively set things up to stay out of the news – So, with that being said, I’m crossing my fingers that will be the case with Tina’s estate, too. Granted, it’s only been about a month, but about now is when things would start popping up like, “So and so files Will contest for XYZ reason!” But nothing has popped up so far, which is awesome. Time will tell. If Tina’s estate stays calm, out of the news, and no drama breaks out, I will be so happy because with her blended family, without careful planning and many conversations, a family setup/dynamic like that is often ripe for disagreement.
Before I sign off for this episode, as I said in the beginning of this episode, this came as a beautiful follow-up to my episode last week – last week, we talked about comparing families like the Cleavers in Leave it to Beaver and families like on Modern Family – and specifically, how the family in Modern Family is much more normal nowadays. So, while Tina’s family setup may seem a little unique to some, it’s really not unique. I can confirm that as an estate attorney who has to dive deep into families’ setup and dynamic. It’s absolutely critical families like on Modern Family and families like Tina have a rock solid estate plan in place. If not, things are much more likely to result in hurt feelings, disagreements, and maybe even estate litigation/fighting with lawyers involved. So, if you have a family that is NOT like the Cleavers and may be more like Modern Family or Tina Turner, please, please, please #DoYourEstatePlan.
Alrighty, I think we’re ready to wrap this episode up. Next week we’re back to a “cautionary tale” episode where we talk about real-life clients, real-life cases that I, or my office, have worked on. During that episode, we’re going to go into a story about a gentleman who is in early 60s – well, unfortunately he had a massive stroke and now requires significant care, so even though it seems young, we’re seeking Medicaid to cover his long-term care expenses. On top of all that, he had no planning done, so his 80 year old mother stepped in to help navigate the often-treacherous process of Medicaid. It feels like everything has gone wrong for them; they can’t catch a break, but some of the things that have “gone wrong” could have been avoided with some estate planning. So, tune in for that next week, but until then, take care and be well!