Houser Firm

They died without a will?!

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2019 | Probate Administration

Many celebrities have significant assets. Smart stars have vast estate planning mechanisms in place, however, you may be surprised to hear of a few very famous and very wealthy people who died without any formal protections for their privacy, assets or property.  The negative effects of dying without an effective estate plan can leave your family in litigation for years, or in the cases of some celebrities, even decades.  Below we discuss three celebrities who died without a will and the long term implications of their lack of planning:

Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix died of a drug overdose in his London apartment in 1970.  His estate was still the subject of litigation thirty years after his death. HIs family continued to battle over the intellectual property rights to his songs as recently as 2015.  Millions have been spent in legal fees over the three decades since his death.

Aretha Franklin:

When Franklin passed away in 2018, media reports quickly surfaced that she died without a will. Franklin famously distrusted lawyers and actively decided to eschew estate planning during her lifetime.  The Queen of Soul, who valued her privacy immensely during her life, would be saddened to learn her entire estate will now be laid out in the public record through probate proceedings.  Franklin’s estate is also subject to a significant tax bite from Uncle Sam, as it is estimated to be worth around $80 million, not including the rights to her songs.  

Sonny Bono

Sonny Bono, former singer and United States Representative, apparently always meant to have an estate plan drafted, but kept putting it off due to his busy schedule.  When he died tragically in a ski accident in 1998, his lack of planning left his fourth wife fighting to be named executor of his estate. Once named executor, she battled numerous claims to his assets, including a suit by his former wife Cher who is estimated to be worth well over 100 times the value of Sonny’s estate, as well as a suit from a purported secret love child.  His assets were ultimately divided between his wife and two daughters, but the process took years in court and was extremely costly.

Effective estate planning provides you and your family with peace of mind, direction on how you would like your affairs settled after your death, privacy as to the nature of your assets, and much more.  The Houser Firm can assist with all aspects of estate planning for you and your family, preserving your legacy and protecting your family from further headaches during an already difficult time.

Our attorneys have nearly fifty years of combined experience in asset protection and fiduciary litigation. Contact us today to begin or update your estate plan.  Protect your property, your privacy and your legacy with the Houser Firm.