Hip hop artist DMX—born Earl Simmons—passed away on April 9 at age 50 after suffering a massive heart attack a week earlier at his home in White Plains, New York. The heart attack was reportedly triggered by a cocaine overdose on April 2, which left the rapper in a coma. After a week of being in a vegetative state, his family made the decision to remove him from life support.
Despite selling more than 74 million albums and enjoying a successful career in both music and acting, DMX left behind an estate that some estimates report being millions of dollars in debt. To make matters worse, DMX died without a will. Even though DMX died deeply in debt, just weeks after his passing multiple members of his family, which includes 15 children from nine different women, petitioned the court seeking to become administrators of the late rap star’s estate.
While DMX’s estate may currently be in the red, his loved ones are presumably fighting over the right to control the rap icon’s recording and publishing royalties as it will likely be a lucrative source of future income. In fact, after his death, Billboard reported that DMX’s total royalties, which include the release of a posthumous album, master recording royalties, and licensing opportunities, are worth an estimated $17.7 million.
Due to the fact that there is so much wealth at stake and so many children, DMX’s failure to create an Will and Trust will likely mean his loved ones will be stuck battling each other in court for years to come. No one stands to suffer more than DMX’s fiancée, Desiree Lindstrom.
DMX and Desiree were engaged in 2019. They had been together for seven years. She gave birth to his 15th child in 2016. However, because the two were never married and DMX did not create any Wills and Trusts planning providing for her, Desiree will likely inherit nothing from her late fiancée.
A Common Problem
While DMX’s case is certainly tragic, the lack of Wills and Trusts planning is common among famous musician. For example, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Marley all died without a will. More recently, the legendary “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, who died in 2018, left behind four different handwritten wills which has lead to her four adult sons are still fighting each other in court over her estate more than three years after her death.
Estate planning is crucial even if you have far less wealth than the late rap icon. After all, given DMX’s lucrative recording and publishing royalties, his children will likely still receive an inheritance. However, similar Wills and Trusts planning failures would almost certainly wipe out a smaller estate.
With this in mind, we’ll discuss DMX’s Wills and Trusts planning mistakes and how those errors have impacted his family, his fortune, and his end-of-life medical treatment in this article. From there, we’ll explain how proper planning could have spared DMX, his kids, and his fiancée from their tragic circumstances. Finally, we’ll outline the steps you can take to make certain that your loved ones never have to endure such a dire outcome.
From Fame And Fortune To Debt and Prison
Emerging on the scene in the late 1990s, DMX quickly became one of rap’s biggest stars by cranking out chart-topping hits like “Party Up” and “X Gon’ Give it to Ya.” Between 1998-2003, DMX cemented his legendary status in hip hop by producing with an unprecedented string of five consecutive number-one albums which would earn him three Grammy Awards. From there, DMX parlayed his success in the music biz into an impressive career in movies by starring in a number of hit films such as Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 The Grave.
While DMX experienced amazing success in his professional life, his personal life was plagued by substance abuse as well as serious financial and legal struggles. Although his albums earned him more than $2.3 million between 2010 and 2015, DMX filed for bankruptcy in 2013. In his bankruptcy petition, he claimed to have just $50,000 in assets and owing more than $1 million in debt to numerous creditors. However, the bankruptcy court denied DMX’s claim, leaving him on the hook for his debts.
The majority of DMX’s money problems were caused by the fact that he fathered so many children with so many different women who relied on the hip-hop icon for financial support. In 1999, DMX married his childhood friend Tashera Simmons. They were married for nearly 15 years until their divorce in 2014 and had four children together. However, DMX had numerous affairs during their marriage. Some of those affairs resulted in children.
In 2004, DNA testing confirmed that DMX fathered at least one child from these extramarital affairs which led to the rapper being sued for unpaid child support. As a result of this, DMX was ordered to pay $1.5 million to the child’s mother, Monique Wayne.
But that wasn’t the end of DMX’s child support problems. In his 2013 bankruptcy filing, DMX listed back child support totaling roughly $1.24 million to multiple women as his priority debt. DMX’s financial troubles were exacerbated by his failure to pay income taxes. His failure to pay eventually landed the rap star in prison.
In 2017, DMX pled guilty to $1.7 million in tax fraud. The court then ordered him to spend a year in prison. Even though DMX was released from prison in 2019, at the time, he still owed $2.3 million in income taxes. In September 2020, the IRS filed a tax lien against DMX and ex-wife Tashera Simmons to collect the remaining debt owed to the government. At the time of his death, DMX reportedly still owed the IRS nearly $700,000, according to Radar.
A Traumatic Childhood Leads to Addiction
DMX’s addition troubles as an adult likely stemmed from his abusive childhood. After being born to a teenage mother, the rapper was reportedly beaten by both his mother and her many boyfriends as early as age 6, according to the New York Post. At the age of 10, DMX was kicked out of school for fighting. A short time later, he was ordered by the court to spend 18 months in a home for troubled youth. By the age of 14, DMX was living on the streets, where he was first introduced to drugs.
In a 2020 interview with podcaster Talib Kweli, DMX said that his issues with addiction started at age 14 when his 30-year-old rap mentor offered him a joint that he didn’t know was laced with crack cocaine. Following that experience, DMX said he began using drugs as a coping strategy. Sadly, the habit followed him until the time of his death.
Over the years, DMX entered drug rehabilitation on multiple occasions. The Grammy winner was even forced to cancel an entire tour due to his recurring battles with addiction. Toxicology reports even showed that the DMX died of a cocaine-induced heart attack that cut off circulation to his brain which left the rapper brain dead. Although DMX’s heart was revived at the hospital, he remained in a coma until his mother made the decision to remove him from life support a week later.
A Family Feud Kicks Off
While DMX’s mother, many of his children, his fiance, and ex-wife were able to visit him in the hospital before he passed away and were all reportedly on good terms, just a few weeks later, several of those same relatives were in court battling for control of the late rapper’s estate. With so many potential heirs and such big money on the line, the fight over DMX’s estate is likely to get quite ugly.
Don’t let what happened to DMX’s family due to his lack of Wills and Trusts planning happen to your loved ones. Whether you have no Will and Trust at all or have a plan that needs review, contact us, as your Personal Family Lawyer®. With our support and guidance, we can help you ensure that your loved ones will always be provided for and stay out of court and out of conflict no matter what happens to you.
Next week in part two of this series, we’ll discuss how DMX’s lack of Wills and Trusts planning created a nightmare for his family. Then we’ll outline the steps you can take to ensure your loved ones don’t suffer a similar fate.
This article is a service of Levi L. Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents. We help to ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. This is why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™. During this session, you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session for free.