Amy Winehouse died without will, parents inherit entire estate

California is known for its host of stars in film and music. During the last number of years, few musicians' stars burned as brightly or as briefly as Amy Winehouse's. The British singer, known for her soulful voice, won a number of Grammy Awards before dying last year at the age of 27. Some had speculated about the details of her estate. Those details have now been made public, revealing who will inherit her property and assets.

According to the estate documents, Winehouse had created little, if any, estate planning. She died intestate--that is, without a will. In general, when a person dies without having drawn up a will, the law steps in and distributes a person's estate according to established rules. Under English law, Winehouse's parents inherited the entirety of her net estate, which amounted to $4.66 million.

Although the estate of a person who died intestate may be distributed to family members, it is a less than ideal situation. We will never know Winehouse's intent regarding the distribution of her property, but perhaps it could have been significantly different than the parceling out provided by the laws of intestacy. Winehouse was married at one time. Although she and her ex-husband divorced in 2009, it is not unheard of for people to provide for ex-spouses in their wills.

In addition, she may have had other family members, friends and charities she wanted to benefit. But her parents now control her wealth. While not necessarily a bad thing, they may use the $4.66 million in ways markedly different from the way she would have intended. Wills effectuate a testator's intent and help people control the distribution of assets after their death.

Source: USA Today, "Amy Winehouse leaves $4.7 million estate," Ann Oldenburg, Mar. 28, 2012.

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