Back to Black: Amy Winehouse Didn’t Have a Will After All

Following the death of my all-time favorite singer Amy Winehouse (ok, after Sinatra) from alcohol poisoning in July 2011, it was 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 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.  Her entire probate estate, which reportedly had an after-tax value of nearly $4.7 million, went 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.

 “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.

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Todd Murphy

Todd Murphy is an estate planning lawyer in Morristown New Jersey where he helps modern families of all ages plan for the future.

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