I recently heard an interview with John Densmore (drummer for the famous rock band The Doors). He described the intense conflict he got into with former bandmates Ray Manzerek and Robby Krieger over, primarily – money. No big surprise there.

Densmore explained that he was sued by the former band members for harming them financially. He proudly gave the example that he would not agree to accept millions from Cadillac for the rights to a Doors song for a commercial. He also clarified that none of the former band members were starving. Densmore was joined by the estate of legendary Doors singer and front man Jim Morrison. As he tells it, Morrison’s surviving family members were willing to forego a good deal of money in order to keep the values and legacy of Jim Morrison alive; Morrison would never have “sold out” his art. Manzerek and Krieger were sure they’d win in court based on their conviction that the primary responsibility of a fiduciary is to protect and increase the monetary value of the assets.

Turns out – the courts sided with Densmore and the Morrison estate giving credence to their conviction that a fiduciary responsibility can also include respect for deeply-held values even at the expense of monetary gain.

One of the best parts of my work with families is helping them to clarify the values they want to live by. Nice to know the courts can see the value in that!

I invite you to listen to the Densmore interview. When managing family wealth and legacy, it is critical to define your values.