Lagniappe (aka Blog)

206-926-9848

Famous People Who Died Without a Will

Posted by Judy Nakashima Shoji | Oct 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

What do Picasso, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and "Sonny" Bono all have in common? You're probably thinking, not much. But they do, in fact, have one big thing in common. They all died intestate—which means they died without having a will. 

Here are just a few famous people who died without wills and what happened to their estates.

Jimi Hendrix

Seattle native Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, the battle over his estate raged on for more than 30 years for one simple reason: Hendrix left no will regarding the distribution of his estate.

Bob Marley

Like Hendrix, Bob Marley died intestate even though he knew he had cancer and lingered for nearly eight months. His estate, worth a reported $30 million, had dozens of claimants.

Salvatore Phillip "Sonny" Bono

Granted, Sonny Bono "the politician" died an untimely death in a skiing accident in 1998, but why he died without a will is something we'll never know. Instead of staying at home to grieve, his widow Mary Bono headed to the courthouse to be appointed the estate's administrator. Ex-wife Cher showed up on the scene as a claimant in Bono's estate and a "love child" surfaced soon after that, making the situation even more difficult. 

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso died in 1973 at the age of 91, leaving behind a fortune in assets that included artwork, five homes, cash, gold and bonds. Because Picasso died intestate and left no will, it took six years to settle his estate at a cost of $30 million. His assets were eventually divided up among six heirs.

Michael Jackson

Although a will was later discovered, immediately following Michael Jackson's death in July 2009, his mother filed court papers claiming that Jackson died intestate.  Filing intestate could have been avoided if Michael had shared the location where he kept his will with his executor or discussed his estate plan with his family. 

Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes was an eccentric billionaire who died in 1976 at the age of 70. When he died, his will was discovered at the Mormon Church's headquarters in Salt Lake City. However, the will was proved to be a forgery in a Nevada court and his estate was divided among his 22 cousins.

Aretha Franklin

Because Franklin left no will or trust to manage her assets after her death, the short answer is that her four sons will split her estate, experts say.  Of course, creditors will have the chance to make claims on the estate, and Franklin had a history of bad debts. If other celebrity estates are any guide, shirt-tail relatives and long-lost friends could appear looking for a payout.

Prince

The singer died April 21, 2016, and in the absence of his will, scores of claimants emerged, claiming to be his previously-unknown wife, child, sibling or distant relative. After months of legal drama, the Minnesota probate judge overseeing the late Prince's estate that Prince did in fact die without a will, and that his sister, Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings are the heirs to the multiple millions of dollars he left behind.

Chadwick Boseman

Boseman, who died Aug. 28 after a four-year battle with colon cancer, died without a will.  It is too soon to know what will happen to estate worth an estimated value of $938,500.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the nation's 16th president, has the distinction of being the first president to be assassinated (1865) as well as the first president to die without a will—despite being a lawyer himself.

Famous or not, everyone should have a will. It's simple to do, and it saves your family a lot of money and headaches. And, as illustrated by the stories above, you're never too young—or too smart or too powerful—to have a will.

Get in touch with us here to find out more.206-926-9848Get in touch with us here to find out more. 

About the Author

Judy Nakashima Shoji

Judy prides herself on being approachable, down to earth and willing to answer any questions hr clients may have. She is a Seattle native. She attended the University of Washington, Tokyo University and Seattle University School of Law. She was a legal intern in the Civil Division of the Seattle City Attorney's Office and at Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company located in Shinjuku, Japan. Judy advises clients in all aspects of estate planning, probate and adoptions. She also serves as a Title 11 court appointed investigator in guardianship cases for King County Superior Court. She cannot think of any areas in which she would rather practice. She invests in learning about her client's whole story which creates a friendly environment in which she can provide more effective assistance. Her goal is for her estate planning clients to walk away with a customized, detailed, realistic, and clear estate plan which will accomplish their wishes. Estate planning can be uncomfortable and confusing and her goal is to explain complicated legal options in a way that is easy to understand and clear. Her desire is to provide peace of mind and clarity for her clients while also giving them the information necessary to make well informed decision. Judy has been a member of the Elder Law and Real Property and Trust sections of the Washington State Bar Association and King County Bar Association. She has been a volunteer attorney with the King County Bar Association Neighborhood Clinic and Pro Bono Services for the past 14 years where she was recognized as volunteer of the month in October 2014. Judy is married with three children. Outside of work she enjoys traveling to sunny locations, exercising (HIIT and barbell classes keep her grounded) and spending time with the people (and animals) she loves.

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Areas We Serve

At Elise Buie Family Law Group, PLLC, we represent clients from Seattle and Bellevue, Washington, and the surrounding region, including all of King County and the cities of Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Edmonds, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Federal Way, Shoreline, Des Moines, Bainbridge Island, Vashon, Auburn, Renton and Puyallup. We love working with clients from Seattle's unique, eclectic neighborhoods: West Seattle, Fremont, Ballard, Madrona, Queen Anne, Greenwood, Ravenna, Maple Leaf, Wedgewood, View Ridge, Laurelhurst, Windermere, Madison Park, Magnolia, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, Broadmoor, Phinney Ridge, Crown Hill, Yarrow Point and Mercer Island.

Contact Us

Call us at (206) 926-9848
Email: [email protected]

We'll be happy to set up an initial consult. Thank you for looking around our site. We look forward to serving you.

We welcome your email, but please understand that if you are not already a client of Elise Buie Family Law Group, PLLC, we cannot represent you until we confirm that representing you would not create a conflict of interest. Please do not include any confidential information until we verify that our office is in a position to represent you and our engagement is confirmed in writing. Prior to that time, there is no legal representation and thus no attorney-client confidentiality.

Thank you.

Elise Buie Family Law Group

jumping_20orca-compressor.jpg

Elise Buie Family Law Group PLLC
1001 Fourth Avenue, 44th Floor   Seattle, WA 98154

Menu