When pop superstar Whitney Houston died in 2012 at the age of 48, she left her entire estate to her only child, Bobbi Kristina Brown – who was just 19 years old, leading many to worry that someone so young would not be able to handle the money or the people who would inevitably prey on her for access to the money. Three years later, Houston’s daughter died without a will.
The tragic turn unleashed fighting among relatives on both sides of Bobbi Kristina’s family, culminating in the administrator of her estate quitting in March 2017.
An Atlanta court appointed attorney Bedelia Hargrove as Bobbi Kristina’s conservator to manage her finances after she was found unresponsive in her bathtub in January 2015. Bobbi Kristina died six months later after being taken off life support, and Hargrove became her estate’s administrator. Appointing a non-relative as conservator and later administrator was a wise move, but Hargrove had her hands full from the start.
Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, and aunt, Pat Houston, feuded openly with Houston’s ex-husband and Bobbi Kristina’s father, singer Bobby Brown, over money and Bobbi Kristina’s welfare. When Hargrove resigned, she complained that the family had refused to pay more than $86 million in bills, while the family countered that Hargrove refused to provide receipts, according to BET.com. The family also maintained that Hargrove had spent too much time and money on a court action against Nick Gordon, Bobbi Kristina’s ex-boyfriend.
On behalf of Bobbi Kristina’s estate, Hargrove won a $36.2 million judgment in a wrongful death suit against Gordon in 2016, whom she accused of stealing from Bobbi Kristina’s bank accounts, Atlanta Daily World reported. Hargrove also accused Gordon of assault, battery, and conversion. As Bobbi Kristina’s family has pointed out, however, it is unlikely that Gordon will be able to pay the judgment.
It’s also unclear how much of Houston’s original estate was left at this point. Forbes noted that various reports indicated Houston died in debt, but that a bump in sales from her songs wiped out the debts and brought in $20 million after her death. But by the time Bobbi Kristina died, much of what she inherited had been spent or put toward keeping her on life support for six months.
While no one could predict how Bobbi Kristina’s life would turn out, it’s worth noting that Houston could have taken a few steps to better safeguard her daughter’s inheritance. As Forbes pointed out, Houston drafted her will in 1993, the year Bobbi Kristina was born, and never updated the document. Bobbi Kristina received 10 percent of her inheritance when she turned 21, with another installment scheduled to be released when she was 25. Even 10 percent of Houston’s estate was likely more than a young adult could handle, especially if she was surrounded by negative influences.