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Jimmy Buffett’s Will Appoints His Wife as Executor of His Estate

Jimmy Buffett, the singer-songwriter and entrepreneur of an island-themed business empire who died last month at 76, left his wife in charge of his estate, according to a copy of his will, which contains few specifics about the scope of his assets or other beneficiaries.

Mr. Buffett, whose blockbuster hit “Margaritaville” rocketed him to fame in 1977 and now serves as branding for his restaurant franchise, hotel chain and more, used the will to funnel a majority of his assets to a revocable trust that he created in 1990. But in keeping with Florida law, the will, filed last month in Palm Beach County, Fla., does not contain a public inventory of his assets nor does it reveal any of the holdings of the James W. Buffett 1990 Trust.

His wife of more than 40 years, Jane S. Buffett, has been tasked with carrying out his wishes after being named personal representative, or executor, of the estate. The will appoints his business partner, John L. Cohlan, chief executive of Margaritaville Holdings, to step in if needed.

In addition to his fan base of so-called Parrot Heads who became devoted to his carefree ethos and songs populated by pirates and beach bums, Mr. Buffett built a sprawling business over his career that has grown to include about 150 restaurants, casinos and cruises. Forbes reported this year that Mr. Buffett had become a billionaire, noting that he holds shares in the conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, led by Warren Buffett, who is a friend, but not a relative, of the musician. (“Tell Jimmy to keep me in his will!” the Forbes report quoted Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, as saying.) The magazine reported Jimmy Buffett as owning several homes and planes, as well as a yacht.

Mr. Buffett died at his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., on Long Island, but his estate filed the will in Palm Beach County, where he was long a resident. He signed the will in 2017.

It is yet to be seen how Mr. Buffett’s business is affected by his death: whether its success was dependent on its living founder, who was still performing up until this year, or if it can continue at the same level based on his legacy and its own entrenched brand.

Mr. Buffett’s will assigns his intellectual property, including the rights to his music, to his trust as well. It suggests that he may have a separate list doling out his belongings, including clothing and furniture, assigning his residential real estate explicitly to his wife. The singer, who died of Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, is survived by two daughters, a son, two grandsons and two sisters.

“Funneling everything to your trust affords you a ton of privacy,” said Sarah Butters, a Florida estate lawyer. “There are a million celebrity wills gone wrong, but this isn’t one of them.”

Joe Capozzi contributed reporting.

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