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Ten famous people who died without a will

Celebrities with hundreds of millions of £$ to their name may seem like a distant problem. But the principles are often the same if you have £1,000 or 100,000,000. How bad can it get? Really bad.

There was a 30 year battle over Jimi Hendrix's will. He died in 1970, and didn't leave a will. For musicians it's important as artists often continue to earn money after their deaths, and as new generations found his music who got the profits? So, even if you're no Hendrix, but you produce art that has value after your death, think about it.

Bob Marley's music also still sells. He died intestate even though he knew he had cancer. His estate, worth a reported $30 million, had dozens of people coming forward as claimants.

Sonny Bon died in a skiing accident in 1998. His widow Mary Bono headed to the courthouse to be appointed the estate's administrator, just as Ex-wife Cher showed up as a claimant in Bono's estate and a "love child" surfaced soon after that. Awkward.

Swedish author Stieg Larsson who wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, died in 2004. Larsson died without a will and Swedish law dictated that Larsson's estate be divided between his father and his brother. His lifelong partner of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson, received nothing, although the family did grant her ownership of the couple's apartment.

Pablo Picasso died in 1973 at the age of 91, leaving behind a fortune that included artwork, five homes, cash, gold and bonds. Because Picasso died intestate it took six years to settle his estate at a cost of $30 million. His assets were eventually divided up among six heirs.

Prince's sister filed documents claiming that the entertainer died without a will. He was 57 and was estimated to be worth around $200m.

Amy Winehouse made was worth around $4.6 million dollars when she died without a will. Though she had been married at the time of he greatest success (and this can have implications) her parents inherited all of it. Her ex husband has made a few attempts at claiming but as he's also struggling with drug addiction, he's not been successful.

And then there's what happens with wills that haven't been updated...

When comedian Rik Mayall died, he left his family with a large tax inheritance bill. This could have been prevented if he had left everything to his wife in a valid will.

Kurt Cobain's will was incomplete, according to his entertainment lawyer. He was estimated to be worth around £355m, and most of this was inherited by his widow, rock singer Courtney Love, and his daughter, Frances Bean, who was only 20 months old when he died.

And although James Brown left a will, it wasn't specific enough, especially relating to the status of his last partner, Tomi Rae Hynie.


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