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Back to Black: Amy Winehouse Didn't Have a Will After All
Following the death of singer Amy Winehouse from alcohol poisoning last July, the British paper the Daily Mail reported that not only did the 27-year-old have a will but that she had recently updated it to ensure that her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil would not inherit any of her estate. That the troubled singer could be organized enough to plan her estate seemed somewhat incongruous, but news sources, including this one, picked up the story as an example of the importance of planning no matter one’s age.
It turns out the story was too good to be true. Winehouse died intestate, in other words without having executed any will at all, according to probate documents reported by the Associated Press. Her entire probate estate, which has an after-tax value of $4.7 million, will go to her parents. Winehouse may have wanted to leave some of that money to others besides her parents – perhaps to her brother or to Fielder-Civil -- but if she did, she failed to make a will to make that clear.
Winehouse’s fortune was earlier estimated to be about $16 million, and it may turn out to be more than $4.7 million because a probate estate does not include assets held held jointly with someone else, or that had a beneficiary designation (like an insurance policy), or held in trust (although it is unlikely Winehouse had a trust if she had no will).
“By having no will at all, despite earning millions of dollars in her short career, Winehouse joined the dozens of other famous celebrities who procrastinated with their estate planning,” celebrity estate experts Danielle and Andy Mayoras write in Forbes.
Although it turns out Amy Winehouse had no will, the moral of the story remains the same: it’s never too early to plan your estate. If you have accumulated some assets (it doesn't have to be Winehouse's millions) or have young children that will need a guardian, then it is time to start thinking about an estate plan. Planning your estate with a will or trust is the best way to ensure your estate is distributed the way you want it to. To find a qualified elder law attorney near you who can help you devise the best plan, click here.
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