Recently filed probate records show that deceased singer Amy Winehouse died intestate, without a valid will. Therefore her estate, valued after taxes and other deductions at approximately $4.66 million, will go to her parents. Her father is in charge of the estate administration.
Had she drafted a will before she died last year at age 27, Winehouse would have been able to direct how her assets would be allocated after her death. She could have directed a certain amount of money to her surviving brother or ex-husband, for example. However, by not creating a will before she died, Winehouse retained no power over the allocation of her assets after she died.
There are other assets not included in probate that Winehouse may have owned, however. Only assets left in her individual name when she died would be included in the probate records. Other assets, such as those held jointly with another person or those that had a beneficiary designation, would not pass through probate. Rather, they would pass directly to the joint owner or beneficiary, respectively. Furthermore, if any of Winehouse's assets were held in trust, they too would avoid probate.
When a person with substantial assets fails to create a will before dying, there are many other disadvantages that might surface too. That person is not able to strategically limit estate tax liability on their assets, for example. In addition, they may cause their family members to become involved in a hotly contested battle in probate court. These and other potential issues can be easily avoided when a will directs the disposition of a person's assets.
Source: Forbes, "Amy Winehouse Didn't Have a Will After All, But Did Have Millions," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, March 28, 2012