The Rich, Famous, and Intestate

April 27, 2012

Most of us assume that anyone worth millions of dollars would certainly go to the trouble of creating a comprehensive estate plan, or at the very minimum a Last Will and Testament. As with many assumptions, that one would be incorrect. A surprising number of the rich and famous have died intestate, or without leaving behind a valid Will, including the following:
Sonny Bono: Best known early on as half of “Sonny and Cher”, Bono later went on to become the mayor of Palm Springs, California and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives before dying in a tragic skiing accident in 1998. Bono did not leave behind a Will. Shortly after his death, his wife and mother became embroiled in a legal battle over Bono’s estate.
Steve McNair: The NFL star was shot and killed by an alleged girlfriend at the age of 36. McNair left behind a family and a fortune, but no Will.
DJ AM: Although this name may only be familiar to those of a certain age group, the famous DJ died of a drug overdose in 2009 without having executed a Will prior to his death.
Howard Hughes: The eccentric billionaire who was worth in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion when he died in 1976 failed to leave behind a Will. Although one was produced after his death, it was later determined to be a forgery. Eventually, 22 cousins inherited Hughes’s fortune.
Pablo Picasso: The famous artist died at the age of 91 leaving behind homes, cash and artwork valued in the millions, but did not leave behind a Will. Six years later, at an estimated cost of $30 million, his estate was settled.
You may not be famous or rich, but if die intestate you leave the problems for the courts and the state to decide. It leaves children unprotected, special people in your life disappointed and causes undue financial expense on the estate.

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