5 Famous People Who Died Without A Will

5 Famous People Who Died Without A Will

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There are real consequences for our estate and your heirs if we pass away without a will. Our natural assumption is that people of means, who have substantial estates, will have their will in place. But this is not always the case. This is the story of 5 very famous people who died without a will.

What Happens if You Pass Away Without A Will?

The state decides where your assets will go when you fail to leave a will. And if you own property in multiple states, each state will follow it’s own probate process. During probate, assets can be frozen, so heirs and your estate can be deprived of resources they need.

Those are just the beginning. Generally speaking, leaving no will creates stress and a burden for your heirs. They are left trying to resolve your estate at the same time they are grieving. Disputes between heirs can erupt and those can cause lasting damage to relationships.

Creating a will or estate plan is not just about taking care of your assets; it is about taking care of those you leave behind.

5 Famous People Who Left No Will When They Passed Away

Number 5 – Abraham Lincoln

This one is surprising as Lincoln was a prominent lawyer. He had a substantial estate and he knew he was in danger. During the Civil War, he was the target of at least one attempt on his life before he was assassinated.

When Lincoln died at 54, his estate was worth approximately $1M in today’s dollars. A Supreme Court justice helped the family with their legal issues. Despite this, it still took 2 years to resolve his estate.

All of this happened because Abraham Lincoln didn’t create a will.

Number 4 – Prince

Prince died of an accidental overdose in 2016. He left an estate worth between $100-$250M and he had 6 adult heirs. The estate is still unresolved 4 years later. This has cost millions in legal fees. Most recently, the IRS is disputing the value of the estate.

All of this happened because Prince didn’t prepare an estate plan.

Number 3 – Bob Marley

Bob Marley passed away at age 36 after a year-long bout with cancer. It is said he made no will as his Rastafarian faith did not permit him to do so. He left a $30M estate and 12 heirs.

Under Jamaican law, Marley’s wife was to receive 10% of this estate. But she created a fraudulent, backdated will with his lawyer and accountant. This effort was challenged and it ultimately failed. The accountant and attorney were prosecuted as a RICO conspiracy.

Separately, the battle over Bob Marley’s estate lasted years. There were numerous lawsuits to try to control the estate, the Marley name and his music.

All this could have been avoided had Bob Marley prepared for his passing.

Number 2 – Pablo Picasso

In 1973, perhaps the most famous artist of the 20th Century, passed away. Pablo Picasso died at 91, leaving an estate worth $100-$250M and his art collection. But he had no will, despite his wealth and advanced age. The battle over his estate lasted 6 years and cost over $30M in legal fees.

Much of this time and expense could have been avoided had Picasso created his will.

Number 1 – Tony Hseih

Tony Hseih was beloved in Las Vegas as a business person, a philanthropist and a visionary. His recent, sudden passing was a blow to our community and to those who love him. But just as shocking is the fact that this astute entrepreneur did not leave behind a will.

Hseih’s estate is estimated to be worth $700-800M. But the exact value is not known as he did not keep an inventory of his holdings, investments and his commitments. There is currently a process underway to catalog these items. This could take months or years and during this time, some commitments may be delayed and assets may not be fully managed.

There is also a process underway to determine who will be the executor of his estate as that was not established before his death. And finally, Hseih owned assets in multiple states, so there will be multiple probates. Again, much of this could have been avoided.

Creating a Will is A Way to Care For Those We Love

Think of all of these cases. Each of these people, a president, musicians, an artist and a business titan, failed to create a will. The result is delays in the estate, probate and often large or even massive legal fees. Disputes arose between family members. The estates are diminished. Each of these cases is a story of avoidable waste.

Cunningham Law exists to help our clients preserve their assets and make sure that their wishes are followed. We are able to handle the most complex estate matters but we do it with compassion and with down to earth advice. Let us help you make sure you are taking care of those you love. Let us help you craft your plan to care for your heirs and your estate. The best time to start is always right now.