Sonny Bono – Intestacy

Sonny Bono, died following a ski accident in which he hit a tree in 1998 at age 62 without leaving a Will. Bono had three ex wives, four children, several business interests, and an estate estimated at $1 million.

Bono was successful in various careers in entertainment, as a restaurateur and a politician. He was mayor of Palm Springs, and later the United States Congress. In congress he was a respected lawmaker who helped pass legislation to protect the environment and championed changes to copyright law. So you think that he would have no excuse not to make a Will.

As a resident of California, and because Bono died intestate under State law all of his children were entitled to a portion of the estate even though he had a surviving spouse. After he died his estate was placed into the California probate process with his wife at the time of his death, Mary, named as the executor of his estate.

Additionally, former spouse Cher also filed as a claimant against the estate alleging she was owed back alimony payments. His illegitimate son also made a claim against the estate, however DNA testing ruled out Bono’s paternity of this claimant.

The estate was in a complicated and expensive probate process while the various claims were addressed.  Bono could have saved his loved ones the grief, stress and conflict, (not to mention the expense) of defending these claims by planning for his future and making a Will.

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