By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
March 28, 2019
Aretha Franklin Isn’t the Only Famous Musician to Die Without an Estate Plan
When a successful music star dies, his or her estate continues to generate revenue. This is because music superstars don’t just leave an estate – most of them leave a lasting legacy.
Because of this, it can be difficult to understand how and why someone with so much fame and fortune would pass away without a will or trust to determine what happens to their property after their demise.
Aretha Franklin is probably one of the most recent and notable musicians to die without a will in place. As you can guess, there was quite some drama over what would happen. But the “Queen of Soul” isn’t the only cautionary tale we can tell about musicians who die without an estate plan. Here are examples of other famous musicians who passed away without a will:
When Prince died in 2016 due to an accidental drug overdose, it was declared that the 57-year-old music star didn’t have a will. Numerous claimants then came forward, all demanding a share of his $200 million-plus estate.
The legal battle that ensued lasted for months, until a court ruled that his sister and five half-siblings would be heirs to the estate left behind by Prince. Even then, about half of Prince’s estate would be consumed by federal and state estate taxes.
Amy Winehouse passed on in 2011 at age 27 due to alcohol poisoning. At first, it was thought that the soulful brit had a will, but it later emerged that she didn’t. After taxes and debts, Amy’s estate totaled $4.66 million. Her parents eventually inherited her fortune, with her father acting as the administrator. Her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, received nothing.
Bob Marley is one of the world’s best-selling reggae artists to date – despite the fact that he died in 1981. Unfortunately, at the time of Marley’s death, he did not have any will to help manage his $40 million estate. After his family spent years in court battles, it was declared that his estate would go to his wife and 11 children, as per Jamaican law. The family additionally got rights to his name and likeness.
Jimi Hendrix passed on in 1970 at the age of 27 in what was suspected to be a drug overdose. Because he didn’t have a will, the legal battle that ensued over his $175 million estate went on for over 30 years. These legal battles weren’t just about his estate, which was under the control of his father and later his sister – Jimi’s siblings were also fighting for the use of his name.
In 1996, at the age of 25, Tupac was shot. Even though he wasn’t married and didn’t have any kids, he was engaged at the time of his death. Despite this, his mother inherited his entire estate since Tupac didn’t have a will. Since then, Tupac’s biological father has launched an unsuccessful claim to his estate. His mother’s ex-husband has also sued her for alimony, in addition to seeking a portion of her income from Tupac’s estate.
What does all of this mean for you?
Nothing, really – unless you happen to be a famous musician, too!
But it is a way of showing you that estate planning neglect is something that can happen to absolutely anyone – even people who, with their enormous estates, should know better. Don’t let your loved ones go through this kind of ordeal. Get your estate in order now.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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