Musicians Who Died Without a Will

We have all heard the recent news that legendary artist Prince has passed away and he didn’t leave a Will. There has been much speculation about the battle between siblings over his estate and music royalties.

We wanted to talk about five musicians who passed away without Wills, like Prince, and what ended up happening in their battles.

Did you know Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur died without Wills? Bob Marley died after an 8-month battle with cancer, and he left no Will and nine children. Not to mention an estimated $30 million and royalties to all his music, and that was in 1981. Even with months to plan he did not make any attempt to set up an estate plan. As recently as 2012 there had been a lawsuit involving royalties of his music. And there may continue to be lawsuits in the future.

Tupac Shakur was shot to death in Las Vegas. But as a resident of California his estate was handled here in Los Angeles. Shakur was raised by a single mother, and his father attempted to get many of his recording rights/royalties after his death. His mother eventually proved that Tupac’s father was absent most of his life and should not be in charge of their son’s estate. Afeni Shakur (Tupac’s mother), created a Trust to hold and protect all her son’s income and recording rights. To this day the foundation makes about a million dollars a year and protects the legacy of one of rap’s most famous lyricist.

Amy Winehouse died without a Will. Since she died intestate her estate went to probate court. The court decided where her assets would go. They eventually left everything to her parents, and it dwindled from an estimated $6.7 million to approximately $4 million after attorney and court fees and creditors were paid.

Barry White also died without a Will. His ex-wife, his estranged wife and his girlfriend were left to squabble over his estate and royalties. He also had nine children. His girlfriend had a daughter before he died, and it became a point of contention when the family refused to acknowledge the child as part of his estate.

Prince’s death continues to make headlines. Most recently for the drug fentanyl, which was found in a mislabeled pill bottle. As we have mentioned in our last newsletter, California has a complicated Probate code, making it a very long process to go through. Michigan, where Prince died, does not have such a long and arduous Probate process. His estate may be settled faster then we expect. As a musician who died only a few months ago, it is yet to be determined what will happen. But you can bet there will be future lawsuits over royalties.

Most recently it was announced that Prince’s Paisley Park home in Michigan will be open to the public for tours in October. Prince’s sister says this is something Prince had always wanted.

Want more information on estate planning, give our office a call 818.887.9401.