Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, December 13, 2010

How To Make Money From The Grave

Dead_Dollar This post is provided through the courtesy of Kenji Crosland, a writer for TeachStreet, a website dedicated to providing online and local classes, including law classes.

As far as I know, there are only two ways to make money from the grave. One way is to get bitten by a zombie or vampire and get a job at Subway, and the other is to create a perpetual money making machine. Generally this means making a whole lot of passive income, income that you can generate as you sleep (or big sleep, in this case). So how do you do it? What do you have to do to generate millions while six feet under so that your children and your children’s children’s children never have to work again?

Write a Timeless Song.  What do John Lennon, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley have in common? They’re all musicians and they’re all probably making more money than you do. Writing timeless music is probably one of the best ways to make a little dough after you’ve kicked the bucket. Even the simple song “Happy Birthday to You” which was written in 1893 is still making some dough more than a hundred years after it was composed. Songs that are seasonal or have some utility are usually the best. Although “Happy Birthday” takes the cake (pardon the pun) for staying power, Christmas songs are your next best bet. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” has made millions.

Cultivate an Incredible Persona.  Steve McQueen and Einstein have been making a lot of money recently just for being who they are. Einstein’s estate has made 10 Million Dollars in this year alone so that companies like Disney can put his name to the Baby Einstein products. Steve McQueen raked in nearly six million dollars for having his name associated with fashion products. In order to cultivate an incredible persona you’ve got to make your name synonymous with something. Einstein is a synonym for “smart” and Steve McQueen is synonymous with “cool”, “macho” and “fashionable”. It’s not enough, however, to develop the persona. You’d bet that Disney wouldn’t be shelling out so much to the estate if his name was “John Smith”. If you have a generic or hard to pronounce name, it’s best that you change it. Otherwise you’ll never be making money off of your persona.

Write Children’s Books.  People might not be reading “Gone with the Wind” or “Moby Dick” as much as they used to, but for some reason kids are still reading the Dr. Seuss books and classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Where The Wild Things Are. My guess is that the language is so simple in these books that there’s really nothing in them to make them seem dated, so children love them just as much today as they did fifty years ago. The $11M dollars that the Dr. Seuss estate has made this year is nothing to sneeze at.

So that’s all you have to do to earn money from the grave. Just write a song, write a children’s book or be really really really cool (and have a cool name). You’ll be set for the rest of your life, and the afterlife.


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yah it is possible. but not a common person.

Posted by: portableking | Dec 14, 2010 4:36:48 AM

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