Some deceased celebrities, also known as "delebs," have made or stand to make more money post-mortem than while they were living. The arts appear to offer substantial after-death earnings. Here we will examine the pay structure of singers, songwriters, actors and authors, and several of them whose works have appreciated significantly since their deaths.

In Pictures: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs

Singers typically earn 10-25% of a CD's suggested retail price prior to deductions for many items, including packaging, touring and promotion. When popular singers pass away, sales tend to rise markedly. Artists whose works have received a substantial posthumous sales bump include Aaliyah, Johnny Cash and Michael Jackson.

The estate of The King of Pop (Jackson) has perhaps the most future cash flow potential. According to Forbes, the estate brought in $90 million in the four months following his death in June, 2009.

Singers like Patsy Cline, Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles have sold millions of records over many years following their deaths. Rapper Tupac Shakur has also sold millions of records since his murder in 1996, in fact Shakur released more albums after death than while living.

In each year since his death in 1977, Elvis Presley has remained one of the highest-earning delebs. The King of Rock 'n' Roll continues to make millions from the grave annually; his estate brought in $55 million in the year ended October 1, 2009, according to Forbes. (Skip the first step and build off of someone else's successful business model. Find out how in Share The Wealth With Franchises.)

In the world of music royalties, songwriters typically receive more money for their songs than the performers who sing them. Like the singers, writers make money from the sale of their music, but writers are also compensated for print music, performance and synchronization royalties.

Royalties from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's many songwriting projects, including "The King and I" and "The Sound of Music", continue to provide income, but the recent sale of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization to Imagem Music Group gave the estate a large boost. Rodgers and Hammerstein died in 1979 and 1960, respectively. (The glitz and glam of Hollywood could help put some more glitz in your pocket. Find out how, in Analyzing Show Biz Stocks.)

Actors must work their way into being able to demand hefty paychecks per appearance. According to the Screen Actors Guild, the rate for a theatrical day performer is slightly above $800 per day. James Dean earned $1,250 per week as the lead role in "Rebel Without A Cause." The young actor, who died over 50 years ago in a car accident at the age of 24, has remained extremely popular. According to Forbes, endorsements and image licensing continue to generate roughly $5 million a year.

Actress Marilyn Monroe has also been a high-earning deleb. Her estate was valued at under $100,000 at the time of her death in 1962, however licensing deals have earned her estate more money than she made while living. In 2008, her estate made approximately $6.5 million.

Authors are rarely made wealthy solely from the sale of books, since book royalties often range from 10-15% of the book's cover price. Unless the author receives a hefty advance from a publisher, the pay structure often makes books which are converted to movies the most profitable ones.

English author J.R.R. Tolkien penned several books including "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of The Rings" trilogy. The latter work has proven most profitable in theaters, bringing in nearly $3 billion of box office receipts worldwide, and a film version of "The Hobbit" is forthcoming. Tolkien passed away in 1973, but his works brought in $50 million in the 12 months ended October 1, 2009, according to Forbes.

Author Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel has generated similar after-death cash flows through movie versions of his works, including "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and "The Cat in the Hat." The estate of Geisel, who died in 1991, earned a reported $19 million during the same period. (While it is important to invest early, it is also important to invest wisely. Learn more, in Top 5 Books For Young Investors.)

The death of a celebrity often draws a large amount of attention to their life and reignites interest in their work. From a financial perspective, death has proven profitable for the estates and/or families of many celebrities involved in the arts. Leaving behind a catalog of works can preserve one's memory as well as their cash flows.

Feeling uninformed? Check out the financial news highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Greece Is Burning And Buffett's Under Fire.

Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    This is What Donald Trump's Portfolio Looks Like

    Find out what Donald Trump's portfolio looks like and gain some interesting insights into the way the billionaire's investment mind works.
  2. Personal Finance

    4 Famous People Whose Finances Were Under Conservatorship

    Understand what conservatorship is and how it comes about during the legal process. Learn about four celebrities who were placed under conservatorship.
  3. Stock Analysis

    7 Trump Businesses You Didn't Know Existed

    Understand what Donald Trump is best known for and the types of income streams he's created. Learn about seven obscure businesses he owns.
  4. Estate Planning

    A Look At Robin Williams' Net Worth and What Happened to His Estate

    Understand what happened to Robin Williams' estate and what his estate included. Learn about the court battle over his remaining possessions.
  5. Your Clients

    What Working with Celebrity Clients is Really Like

    Expect excitement as well as the mundane when dealing with celebrity clients. Some will be charming; others...not so much. Here's what else to anticipate.
  6. Your Practice

    How to Add Celebrities to Your Client Roster

    The trick to landing celebrity clients is a subset of the skill of acquiring clients in general. Here are some strategies to help break into this world.
  7. Wealth Management

    A Look At Britney Spears' Net Worth and Her Conservatorship

    Discover how Britney Spears' net worth plunged in 2007 and has since been growing under the management and direction of her conservatorship.
  8. Economics

    Management Strategies From A Top CEO

    Jack Welch is a legend in the business world: during the two decades he was CEO of General Electric, the company’s value rose by 4000%.
  9. Investing

    From Supermodel to Entrepreneur: Gisele Bündchen's Sejaa Pure Skincare

    As one of the highest-paid models in history, Bündchen has turned her name and image into a worldwide brand, and Sejaa is part of her massive empire.
  10. Investing

    Oprah Takes a Big Bet With Weight Watchers (WTW)

    Does "The Oprah Effect" still work, and can Winfrey reinvigorate a brand that's been struggling for years?
  1. What causes politicians or governments to begin "pork barrel" spending?

    Pork barrel spending occurs when the government taxes the general population to hand out concentrated benefits to special ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  2. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  3. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  4. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  5. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  6. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
Trading Center