Amy Winehouse died in July 2011 from alcohol poisoning aged 27 without a will. Her estate was valued at around $7 million.
Newspapers and magazines reported that her estate would be worth as much as $20 million. Similarly that she had made a Will following her divorce from ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. Sadly neither of these was true.
In the United Kingdom (like most jurisdictions) when an unmarried adult without children dies without a will, their estate is distributed to their surviving parent(s). If no parent is alive, the estate will then be distributed to the decedent’s living siblings in equal shares.
Amy died unmarried and without children, both of her parents are still alive, therefore Amy’s estate passes to her parents Mitch and Janis. According to Court documents Mitch applied for letters of administration.
Amy was still close to her ex-husband, but intestacy rules mean he was not left anything. If Amy had made a Will he could have been left something from the estate. Similarly Amy may have wanted to leave something to her brother Alex but without a Will this is not possible.
Amy supported a wide range of charities including Adopt-A-Minefield, Anti-Slavery International, Breast Cancer Campaign, CARE, Children’s Medical Research Institute, , Greenpeace, the Red Cross, Lifeline Oxfam, UNHCR, and UNICEF. Amy couldn’t give any of these organisations bequests from her estate as she died without a Will.
It is important to note that her family established the Amy Winehouse Foundation to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. It has developed a Resilience Programme for Schools across the UK to provide education around drugs, alcohol and to assist young people dealing with emotional issues.
Unfortunately, as Amy didn’t leave a Will she couldn’t control the distribution of her assets following her death. It may sound like I’m banging the same drum but planning for your future by taking out adequate insurance, ensuring that you have powers of attorney, and advance care directives in place, taking the time to understand and manage your superannuation, and importantly making a Will and keeping it up to date is the best thing that you can do so that when your family and friends are going through a stressful time they don’t have to guess your intentions.