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.
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 with this checklist of things to consider before you head off:
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.
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.
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.
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.