Every person hopes that their legacy will live on, whether through creative works or lives touched. When a celebrity dies, they may take comfort that the things they have done in life, good or bad, will continue to intrigue the public long after their death. The American public’s obsession with a celebrity is greatly reflected in estate value once the celebrity dies.

The death of Whitney Houston is still fresh in the hearts and minds of the American public. Houston was famous not only for her impressive voice, which led to seven straight number-one hits, but also for her movie roles. Her most famous song, “I Will Always Love You,” exploded on iTunes the day after her recent death and was the most downloaded single. The song represented not only her status as the “Queen of Pop,” but also perfectly encapsulated her at the peak of stardom, both in music and film.

The demand for that single alone illustrates the connection that fans reach for when a celebrity passes. A professor of strategic management at York University said that demand for Houston’s music “will continue to soar in the days and weeks ahead.”

Those who stand to gain the most from the estate are the people who own the rights to her work: record producers, movie studios and beneficiaries.

In 2011, Elvis Presley’s estate made $55 million from licensing and merchandise, as well as admissions to Graceland. He died in 1977. Michael Jackson’s estate made $170 million in 2011, largely from sales of his music. People whose estates stand to increase in value upon death should make sure they have a plan in place for beneficiaries.

Luis E. Barreto