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Wills, Trusts & Power of Attorney

By Nicolae Trofin

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Where there is no Will, there is sure to be arguments

 Aretha Franklin was one of the most famous singers of our time, recording 112 charted singles, winning 18 Grammy Awards and selling more than 75 million records worldwide. It’s hard to believe that one of the most charted female artists in history died without a Will, especially considering that she had been ill for some time. Sadly, however, it’s true that Franklin had neglected to make a will. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation.

According to Unbiased.co.uk, over half of UK adults currently do not have a Will: that is one in two adults! Some state that this is due to them ‘not getting round to it’, while others say they just don’t think it is urgent. Many have claimed they don’t think they have enough assets to warrant a Will, and, while few of them will have assets comparable to Franklin’s $80 million estate, having limited finances is no good reason to neglect making other decisions, like who administers your estate, or who becomes the legal guardian of your children if they’re under 18 when you pass away. So, what could be putting all these people off making their Will? For some, it could be the cost, or a simple question of not knowing where to start. For the rich and famous, it’s hard to argue that a lack of funds, or concern over the cost involved, is a demotivating factor – so maybe an unwillingness to confront our own mortality is more prevalent than we might think.

Here are 5 other celebrities who have died without sufficient planning in place:

Prince Despite having an estimated fortune of between £100 million to £270 million, and no surviving spouse, children, or parents, Prince died without a valid Will. A special administrator was appointed by Prince’s only full sibling to deal with the affairs of her brother’s estate.

Kurt Cobain With an estimated estate in excess of £275 million, the lead singer of Nirvana died without a Will, leaving his wife and daughter to inherit. Sadly, prolonged legal battles and disputes over copyright were one consequence of Kurt’s lack of planning.

Amy Winehouse Dying at the age of 27, Amy Winehouse left no Will to distribute her £2.94 million fortune. Winehouse was survived by both her parents, who received her estate under the intestacy rules. Her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, received nothing.

Bob Marley Bob Marley died after battling cancer at the age of 36, leaving no Will. Under Jamaican law, his wife only received 10% of his estate, with his 11 children receiving the remaining 90% between them.

Barry White Dying of a stroke related to kidney failure at 58, Barry White died with no Will, despite his health problems. His ex-wives, girlfriends and children were left to battle over his multimillion pound estate.

While the above estate values are exceptional, they show how passing away without crucial planning has the unavoidable consequence of landing the surviving family with stress, complication, and cost. Considering the costs incurred when essential planning is neglected, it is vital that professionals are ready to help the public overcome their reticence to talk about death and dying. Making a Will is a necessary undertaking, whatever size the estate. As these sad cases show, relying on the intestacy rules guarantees only one thing for those you leave behind: heartache.

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This message was added on Thursday 30th May 2019

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