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Five Celebrities That Died Without a Will

Dying intestate can be chaotic for loved ones - celebrity status or not.

A 2014 survey by Investec Wealth and Investment found that 64 percent of adults don’t have a will, with many putting off doing one because they don’t fully understand how they work.

It’s hard to believe that over two-thirds have not made a written will. It’s even more surprising to learn that quite a few celebrities with multi-million empires failed to make one too. Here are five famous celebrities that died intestate, leaving behind a whole lot of chaos and dismay:

Amy Winehouse

When Amy Winehouse died, her parents ended up inheriting her fortune despite her having a contentious relationship with her father.

When Amy Winehouse died aged 27 in 2011 from alcohol poisoning, the soulful Brit was thought to have written a will, but ultimately she did not. Winehouse’s parents ended up inheriting her fortune, with the singer’s father Mitch Winehouse, acting as the administrator of her estate.

It’s notable that in Amy, the Oscar-winning documentary about the singer, Winehouse had a contentious relationship with her father (although, Mitch Winehouse called the documentary “misleading”). Winehouse’s estate totalled £2,944,554 after debts and taxes, according to the Associated Press. Her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, did not receive anything.

Bob Marley

For over 30 years Bob Marley’s heirs have dragged his estate through far too many lawsuits to count.

While being widely loved for spreading reggae music around the world, Bob Marley stood for more than just the records he made. Sadly, the events surrounding his estate could not have been any more inconsistent with his musical legacy.

Bob Marley died in 1981 aged 36. Marley was said to be worth about $30 million when he died but even the cancer that was engulfing his body could not convince the reggae pioneer to write a will. For over 30 years, Bob Marley’s estate has been dragged through far too many court fights lawsuits and money-grabs to count. And that legacy of fighting over money doesn’t seem likely to end anytime soon. Some have gone as far as saying Bob Marley’s heirs are destroying his legacy.

Prince

Despite his estate being valued between $100 million and $300 million, Prince failed to leave a will.

The late singer died aged 57 in 2016 from an accidental opioid overdose. The Purple Rain hitmaker didn’t leave a will, even though his estate has been valued between $100 million and $300 million before taxes.

A bank has been appointed to manage the music legend’s asset. Although Prince did not have spouse or children, the court filings list five half-siblings. It’s thought his assets will be divided between his brother and sisters. According to two estate lawyers, this legal battle is likely to be a mess that will take years to sort out.

Jimi Hendrix

With no written will, the fight over Jimi Hendrix’s estate went on for more than thirty years.

Jimi Hendrix died aged 27 in 1970 from an overdose but the fight over his estate went on for more than thirty years. The famed guitarist’s siblings have been feuding since 2002, when their father, Al Hendrix, died and left Jimi’s sister in control of the musician’s $80 million estate. The Washington State Supreme Court upheld the will but the sibling continued to battle over the use of the singer’s image.

According to the Rolling Stone, a settlement was finally reached before a scheduled July 2015 jury trial to determine how much Hendrix Licensing, a company run by brother Leon’s business partner, owed to the Jimi Hendrix estate in terms of damages the sales of unauthorised merchandise.

Kurt Cobain

When Kurt Cobain died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1994, he failed to leave a will for his $450 million empire.

The frontman for Seattle grunge band Nirvana died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1994 at the age of 27. The singer/songwriter left behind a detailed suicide note but sadly failed to leave a will for his $450 million empire.

Kurt Cobain was survived by his wife, Courtney Love, and a baby daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. A Trust was established for the benefit of Frances Bean, and although Love was not in charge of the Trust, she was given Trust accountings. In 2009, Love lost custody of Frances Bean (aged 17), and in 2010 the rights to Kurt Cobain’s name, likeness and appearance were taken from Courtney Love and given to his daughter.

Conclusion

Stories like this only serve as a compelling reminder why estate planning is important for everyone with assets, of any amount. When you die without a will, some of your closest loved ones could be left with no right to inherit anything. A will can save your loved ones a lot of aggro following your death. Don’t make the same mistakes as these celebrities, write your will with Damsons online free will builder!

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