The story of what happened to the estate of the Doors’ Jim Morrison is almost as complicated and hard to believe as some of the stories about his death at 27 from a drug overdose. He had long denied even the existence of his parents and told the press and interviewers many times that they were dead. Of course, they were very much alive and still potential heirs to his fortune when he passed on. But in his final will and testament, officially entered into the record on 2/12/1969 at the Los Angeles County Courthouse, he named Pamela Courson as the sole inheritor of his estate, and as co-executor along with his attorney Max Fink (a wonderful name for a lawyer, by the way). When he died in 1971 she legally inherited his entire estate, including of course all future earnings from his recordings.
As mentioned in an earlier post, Courson died in 1974, also at the age of 27, from an overdose of heroin. At this point her parents were her legal heirs, and as such they inherited the Morrison fortune (mostly a future fortune at this stage). The parents of James Douglas Morrison naturally decided to mount a legal attack on the whole process and contested the will. When Courson’s parents brought forth a document that essentially provided evidence of an intended common-law marriage between Pam and Jim that was very much valid in the state of California, it was clear that even if the will were to be found invalid, she would still inherit the estate as a common-law spouse.
The complications arose because the document was unsigned by either Courson or Morrison, and may have been completed after his death. According to Colorado law, however, the very existence of a declaration by either of the parties involved may establish that a common-law marriage was in effect retroactively. Of course, both parties in this case were deceased, and the California court dealing with probate made a decision that would affect generations. They refused to change the contested will, and Pam Courson’s parents remained the inheritors of Jim Morrison’s estate.
The largest irony in this very ironic situation is that Courson’s father had always and consistently been very vocal and adamant in his dislike and mistrust of Morrison. He never accepted their relationship while they were both alive, and blamed him for his daughter’s death afterwards. But after the probate court’s ruling, he became the executor of Morrison’s estate and all future earnings from his work. Then, in a magnanimous gesture possibly spurred by the irony mentioned and a bit of guilt that he was now rich due to the boyfriend he hated, he officially named the Morrison family co-inheritors, so that every dollar earned by the Morrison estate is split 50-50 between the Coursons and the Morrisons. However, he still controls the empire like a king – and his connection with the Lizard King has made him a wealthy man.
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