Famous Wills

We take a look at examples of famous Wills (or lack thereof) that have been the subject of disputes and disagreements.
Each year, many estates are left unclaimed or open to dispute when people die without a valid, up-to-date Will in place. 

For families involved in legal disputes over their loved ones’ assets, this can be an unpleasant, costly and time consuming process. 

According to the latest Government figures, there are almost 7,000 (6,927) unclaimed estates in the UK. With the average estate now worth over £150,000, it is believed that the combined total of unclaimed assets could be worth billions

Despite many people understanding the importance of having a valid Will in place, a staggering 60% of UK adults do not currently have one. 

This statistic includes famous celebrities who have left huge fortunes behind without clearly setting out their wishes in a Will. In many cases, their estates have been disputed after they pass away, resulting in legal battles between their family and loved ones. Here are some high profile examples. 

Interesting Celebrity Wills 

The following are examples of famous Wills that were contested or the result of a dispute.

Amy Winehouse

When Amy Winehouse tragically died in 2011, she left behind an estimated fortune worth £3 million. Winehouse did not have a valid Will in place when she passed, which meant her estate fell under the Rules of Intestacy. Given that Winehouse had recently divorced, under the Rules, her assets would be split between her parents. This sparked anger amongst her friends and fans as she reportedly had a strained relationship with her mum and dad. In 2019, her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, made an unsuccessful claim of £1 million on her estate. As a result, Winehouse’s wealth passed entirely to her parents, Mitch and Janis. 

Bob Marley

Bob Marley sadly died in 1981 aged just 36, without a Will in place. Under Jamaican law his estate (worth $30 million at the time) should have passed to his wife and children. However, following his death, several people tried to make a claim on Marley’s estate which meant his wife, Rita, spent 10 years fighting for full control of the estate. This process cost her millions in legal fees.

John Lennon

The famous Beatles singer was killed in 1980, leaving behind an estate which is reported to be worth over £220 million. Lennon did have a Will in place which named his wife, Yoko Ono and their son, Sean as the beneficiaries. However, Lennon’s other son from his first marriage, Julian, was not mentioned. Julian challenged this and following a 16 year legal battle is believed to have reached an out-of-court settlement of approximately £20 million.

George Michael

George Michael died in 2016, leaving behind an estate worth £97 million. The talented singer left a Will which stated he wanted his sisters, father and close friends to benefit from his estate. However, his former partner, Kenny Goss, made a claim on his estate, requesting a monthly allowance of £15,000, under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, as he claimed he was financially dependent on Michael. Although it hasn’t been revealed how much Goss has claimed from the estate, it has been confirmed a settlement has been made. 

Disputes over celebrity estates have happened all over the world. Other high profile examples of disputed estates include those of James Brown, Robin Williams, Prince, Pablo Picasso and Nelson Mandela.

Despite the challenges faced by many of these famous families, a new trend has emerged in recent years where celebrities choose not to leave money to their children

Putting a Will in place

It’s not just famous wills that can be the subject of disputes. Ensuring you have a Will in place is important for many reasons.

As well as making sure your wishes are clearly set out to avoid misunderstandings, preparing a Will can also ensure you put provisions in place for your children, pets and any vulnerable people in your life. Once you have a valid Will in place, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that you have every eventuality covered.

Contact Us

Do you need to put a Will in place? Our Will writers have extensive experience in helping clients protect and provide for their families in the future. To date, we have written over 30,000 for people across the UK. 

If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Wills and Probate experts, call us now on 0117 952 0698 or make a free enquiry and our team will be in touch. 


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