The rich and the famous who died without a Will and what a mess it was!
What do Prince, Jimi Hendrix and Aretha Franklin have in common with people like you and me? More than you’d think! As many of us do, they neglected their estate plan and put off writing their Wills until it was too late.
You’d have thought these legendary stars, who generated millions in revenue, would have planned to safeguard their estates. Unfortunately, they never wrote a Will, died intestate and left their estates down at heel.
Here are a few famous artists who failed to plan:
- Jimi Hendrix (Nov 27, 1942 – Sep 18, 1970)
American rock guitarist, singer and songwriter, Jimi Hendrix died without a Will and his estate was battled over for more than 30 years. Following his father’s death, Hendrix’s siblings were left behind, still fighting over the large estate.
- Bob Marley (Feb 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981)
One of the pioneers of reggae, Jamaican singer and songwriter Bob Marley’s estate continues to bring in a significant revenue even though he passed away from cancer in 1981. Bob Marley had been advised to write a Will, but because of his Rastafarian faith prohibiting him from recognizing his mortality, he never did.
Dying intestate, he left behind decades of lawsuits and claimants of his estate, which was estimated to be worth about US$30 million when he died.
- Prince (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)
Prince died without a Will and his estate remains unsettled, with none of his family able to receive a penny. Sadly, his estate has already, and still is benefitting others – Princes’ estate remains in the hands of state-appointed lawyers and executors who have already collected over US$5 million in fees and expenses!
- Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – Aug 16, 2018)
With great surprise “The Queen of Soul” American singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist Aretha Franklin put off writing her Will until it was too late, leaving behind an estate worth US$80 million, and four sons and other family members guessing at her wishes. Her intentions could have been carried out quicker and with less fuss, had she written a Will.
- Salvatore Phillip “Sonny” Bono (Feb 16, 1935 – Jan 5, 1998)
Most well-known for his song I Got You Babe with his second wife Cher, songwriter, television star and politician Sonny Bono, too neglected to write a Will before passing away from a tragic skiing accident in 1988.
Not having a Will complicated the star’s estate, as at the time of his death he left behind a wife, Mary Bono, and three children. Complications surfaced when ex-wife, Cher, and a “love child” made claims to Sonny’s estate.
- Amy Winehouse (Sep 14, 1983 – July 23, 2011)
Amy Winehouse, English singer and songwriter, known for her unique eclectic mix of jazz, pop, soul and R&B, sadly passed away at the young age of 27. Initially it was claimed that Winehouse had, impressively for her young age, an up to date Will, however probate records state the star died intestate. Winehouse may not have had a Will, but what she did have was an estate worth US$6.7 million!
In accordance with intestate law, Winehouse’s estate was passed to her parents, leaving out ex-husband Fielder-Civil (who according to speculations Amy Winehouse still very much loved) as well as her older brother as beneficiaries. Dying without a valid Will, Amy Winehouse joined the list of many of the rich and the famous who neglected or procrastinated in planning their estate.
So why is it that these stars worth millions didn’t have a Will? One possibility is that – like many of us – they simply didn’t want to think about or face their mortality, but the simple truth is, we’ll never be certain!
It is, however, important to address the topic of death, and plan for the inevitable future, making sure that however little or much we have, our estates are distributed according to our wishes, and not decided by the laws of intestacy!
There is much we can learn from the famous – regardless of the value of your estate; whether you’re famous or not; dying without a Will leaves your loved ones with a lot more than just their grief to work through. The answer is quite simple –make sure you write a Will, and remember that writing a Will is not only for you but for the people you leave behind.
With assistance from our team, it does not have to be a complicated affair, and it will leave you and your loved ones with the peace of mind that everything and everyone is taken care of.
Write your Will and plan your estate effectively – contact us today.
Protect Your Children: What You Need To Know About Guardianship
Guardianship 101 written by Little Steps Asia
Familiarise yourself and learn what it is you need to have set up to protect your children with all you need to know about guardianship in Hong Kong. Especially for expats living in Hong Kong it is very important to understand the need to have a Will in place and guardianship deeds to protect your children and make important provisions for their future.
Any minor, a child under the age of 18 must have a Guardian appointed for them who will be responsible for them in the event if both parents were to pass away.
DID YOU KNOW? Without a Will, your child may not be in the care of the right person. If there is no evidence of guardians being appointed for your child, then the State takes responsibility until a suitable Guardian is found. This is important for parents to know, as no parent would want their child to be in State care!
What should you do? Read more…
Don’t hesitate and make the mistake that so many do who put off and avoid making a Will, as you will only regret the opportunity you had to financially plan and make necessary provisions for your family and loved ones.
For both locals and expats in Hong Kong, having a Will is an especially important aspect of financial planning.
Expat Living HK spoke to our Phoenix Wills director, and Hong Kong-based expat of 16 years herself, Asa Candussi Wilkins, about all the important questions on the topic of Wills, estate planning and how a Will is necessary for financial planning for your future.
“Do we need a Will? Is our existing Will valid? Who will care for our children if we both pass away?
These are common questions, subjects that are tossed around at coffee mornings and dinner parties, and even on the flight deck of an aeroplane.” – Asa Wilkins, Phoenix Wills
Achieve peace of mind in writing your Will in Hong Kong and ensure that all of your assets and family are protected. It’s a task that most of us know we should get around to but often put off. Writing your Will needn’t be a painful experience with our Phoenix Wills team as we strive to make the process as smooth and relaxed as possible for you. The peace of mind comes from knowing that this small but very necessary and important job is finished and is well worth the time and effort to safe guard your future and loved ones.
Wills 101 written by Little Steps Asia
Little Steps Asia gives an introduction of what a Will is and the necessity of why it is we need to have one set up.
Why Little Steps loves it: “It’s important to sort out your Will for your family. Hong Kong based, Phoenix Wills can help you arrange it all. Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives (Living Wills), Deeds of Appointment of Guardians, and they also offer safe storage of your Wills in their secure storage facilities…they make it easy, affordable, and offer top security too.”
Before we travel we are quick to make a checklist of things to plan and pack, from our skis and sunnies to our favourite travelling shoes or much-needed neck pillow. However, what most of us tend to forget or are blissfully unaware of is the checklist (touch wood) we’d need in case of an unfortunate event.
No one expects the worst, but should anything happen during a trip, your loved ones could be thrown into an extremely vulnerable, difficult and emotional place. It is always best to rather be safe than sorry and to ensure you protect your loved ones.
Travel with peace of mind that your affairs are in order and that you have made necessary provisions and wishes for you and your family.
Here is our easy check list of things to consider before you head off:
• Write A Will
Making a Will and putting your affairs in order is one of the most important tasks you can carry out. Whether you are married, single, have children or no children we should all have a Will, and if you haven’t written one, before you travel would be a good time to write one. If you have already drawn up your Will, before travelling is a chance to make sure you have reviewed it and made sure it is up to date.
• Appoint Guardians
If you have children that are minors, it is an extremely important provision for all parents to make in appointing them temporary and permanent guardians in case of an event if anything were to happen to both parents. It is possible to name guardians in a Will and best to back your Will up with separate deeds of appointment of guardianship where parents can name temporary and permanent guardians for their children that will enable and ensure children are taken into care by the appointed guardians immediately.
• Living Will: Advance Medical Directive
Are you an adrenaline junkie and one for those dare devil activities then drawing up an Advance Medical Directive is a definite must-do before your next holiday. If a serious health crisis or accident where to occur and you are unable to speak or make your wishes known, a Living Will or Advance Medical Directive will enable you to make sure that those in charge of your care know what you want. A Living Will would allow somebody you have appointed to act on your behalf and give you authority to make medical decisions as it states your wishes about your medical treatment you want followed in the event you become seriously ill or incapacitated.
• Enduring Power of Attorney
In addition to a Living Will it would make sense to write an EPA, which is similar to an ordinary Power of Attorney and is a document in which you appoint a person of your choice to give them financial power of attorney to act on your behalf if you are unable to manage your own finances and affairs.
The next time you plan for a holiday, please do keep in mind our Phoenix Wills checklist of must-dos and take some time to consider and gather all your documents needed to make necessary provisions for you and your family. In that way you can look forward to your travels with the peace of mind that you have left your Last Will and Testament, wishes and estate in the best shape possible.
Safe Travels and Bon Voyage!
Because tomorrow is never promised- one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to write a Will and plan your estate. Estate planning laws differ internationally, however one rule that stands true is that if you do not have a Last Will and Testament, the Government will make one for you!
Without a Will, your assets and estate will be distributed according to the generic laws in your country of domicile – splitting your belongings between your next of kin; e.g. partner and children, and in some countries even factoring in parents or siblings.
What if this is not how you wish your estate to be distributed?
Well, this is one of the greatest reasons for and why it is important to write your Last Will and Testament- to ensure your exact wishes are carried out after you have passed.
For those doubtful of why a Will is necessary, we’ve put together a list of five good reasons Why You Need A Will?
1 – Protect Your Estate
A Will is a legally binding document that allows you to decide exactly how you’d like your estate to be handled and distributed after you have passed away. A Will puts you in control and allows you to choose who is entitled to benefit from your estate and what they will inherit.
Passing away without a Will, the laws of intestacy will decide who inherits your estate, which often could be against your wishes.
Plan Your Estate To Mitigate or Reduce Taxes
2 – Nominate Guardians For Your Children
Appointing guardians to have parental responsibility of your children, if they are minors is one of the most important reasons why you’d need a Will. Any child under the age of 18 must have an adult who is responsible for them.
What were to happen if something happened to both parents?
Absent a Will, if guardians are not appointed for your children, the family court would choose among family members to appoint your children to. For expats in Hong Kong, if no family members are present your children would be placed in an orphanage! It will then be upon the courts’ decision to decide who, if anyone, is best fit to care for them.
Having a Will allows you to appoint guardians you’d want to raise your children.
No 3 – Choose Executors
When choosing who will administer your estate make sure to appoint someone who is organised, that you trust and who is honest. The executors of your Will will make sure that all your affairs are in order, from bank accounts and bills to business affairs. Executors have an important role in executing your Will according to your wishes and thus, another important reason to have a Will- to ensure the wind up of your estate and affairs are left in good hands.
No 4 – Avoid Lengthy Probate
Even with a Will probate is no walk in the park and takes some time, as the purpose of probate is to administer your estate. Passing on without a Will, known as dying intestate, probate can be a nightmare as the court decides how to divide your estate without your known wishes! Having a Will speeds up the probate process and allows the court to administer your estate according to your wishes.
No 5 – Ease Grieving
Losing a loved one is an immensely difficult period. Wouldn’t you want to make grieving less difficult for your loved ones?Writing a Will avoids having loved ones to deal with lawyers and administration during a time of sadness.
Don’t let procrastination get in the way of having a Will. Avoid unwanted stress on your family and protect them during an emotional time. Talk to our great Phoenix Wills Team about writing your Will and planning your estate.