Financial fall-out? Prince, another celebrity to die without a will

Stephen Walker, 6th May, 2016

What do Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jimi Hendrix and Prince have in common?

The answer is that they all died without having made a will. This left their estates “Intestate” which means that the law initially decided who inherited their estates and in some cases there were then long and expensive disputes as to who got what.

They were all US citizens of course but many UK celebrities also died without having made a will; Rik Mayall, Robert Burns, Paul Shane (of Hi-Di-Hi fame) and Jill Dando to name but four. The one big lesson that can be learned from these intestate celebrity estates is that without a will, a big mess will be left behind.

In many cases, these messes can take years to be sorted out after thousands of pounds have been spent in lawyer’s fees. But most importantly, these celebrity estates show that intestacy laws will dictate who gets what, as opposed to what the person would have chosen had he or she taken the time to make a will.

It can also be costly in tax bills not to make a will. Rik Mayall’s estate, for example, paid more Inheritance Tax than it should have done had he made a will to divide things differently.

Intestate estate When the singer Prince, died in April this year, at his home in Minnesota USA aged 57, his estate included the $10 Million Paisley Park estate that is thought to be worth up to $300m, but with incoming song writing royalties and rights to his unreleased music it could be worth a lot more. Since the news of Prince’s surprise death was announced half a million more of his albums have been sold worldwide. A court in Minnesota USA has now declared that the musician had no known will and has moved to appoint a bank as the estate executor.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson in 1958, he left no spouse or children although had previously been married and subsequently divorced twice. With both of his parents having passed away, his next living relatives were six siblings and half siblings.

In accordance to Minnesota's intestate succession rules, “half” relatives inherit as if they were “whole” so all are in line to benefit. Had Prince been resident here in the UK only his whole brothers and sisters would inherit. What nobody knows of course, is whether this was what Prince wanted to happen to his estate.

Why should you make a will? Having the law decide who gets what is sometimes only half the story. In this country and many others, relatives who are “disappointed” by the outcome can make claims on estates for various reasons and the disputes can last for years.

The only sure way of avoiding all this is to make a will.

The moral of the story is don’t leave it until next week or next year to make a will. Talk to a professional and you won’t leave a mess or a big tax bill left behind for your loved ones to sort out.

Need advice on making a will? Get in touch today Please call Stephen Walker on 01482 324252 or email

You can find out more about making a will here.

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