Famous Celebrities Without Wills: Learning from Their Mistakes

What do Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain, Steve McNair, and Prince all have in common? Interestingly, they all died without a will. For all of us who aren’t celebrities – and even for those rare few of us who are – there are real lessons to be learned here.

A testamentary trust for Steve McNair’s four children may have been an option if Mr. McNair had a will drafted in Texas. It was reported that Mr. McNair left behind a $20 million estate – but what was supposed to be done with it, his surviving family was forced to ask and determine. A testamentary trust could have been established to provide for the educational needs of his children and a trustee could have overseen the trust, helping smooth over the rocky legal processes that followed.

For Bob Marley, he died in 1981. Because he died without a will, his estate was divided between his wife and his 11 children in accordance under Jamaican law. It was reported that his wife received 10% of his assets. Was this a fair amount for her to receive, given there were 11 other beneficiaries? Only speculation can lead to an answer because, without a will, there are no certain answers with what to do with a loved one’s estate after they pass away.

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The State of Texas does have an estate plan to follow for individuals if they pass away without a will, or pass away intestate. At that point, the decision on how to divide their estate will be left up to a judge and the Texas Estates Code, assuming Texas has jurisdiction over the case. Basically, you can assume the estate will be divided directly as the law demands and almost certainly not as you would have liked it to be, had you left a will behind.

If you or a family member do not have a will, contact Phillip M. Herr to schedule a free initial consultation, during which you can discuss an estate plan that best suits your family. Together, we can plan for a better future, for yourself and your loved ones.

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