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.
Her family established the Amy Winehouse Foundation(“the Foundation”) launched on what would have been Amy’s 28th birthday 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.
A focus of the Foundation is ‘to support the personal development of disadvantaged young people through music’.
Since its launch, the Foundation has recognised Amy’s birthday on the 14th of September each year.
In 2013 the foundation helped curate an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Camden Town that included among other things merchandise at Amy’s Pop-Up Shop, an art exhibition at the Proud Gallery and various performances.
In 2014, a Statue of Amy created by Scott Eaton was unveiled in Camden Town.
In 2015, an album entitled as Amy’s Yard – The Sessions: Volume 1. The project sees young people with a musical talent mentored to become self-sustaining music artists.
This week it was announced that Amy will be celebrated in a new “immersive” venture, t spearheaded by a performing Hologram of Amy. It has the backing of the Foundation and the blessing of the Winehouse estate with proceeds going to the Foundation.
However, some fans believe that it is an exploitation of her memory that will tarnish her position within British musical history.
Amy’s father has described the project as “a dream for us… her legacy will continue in this innovative and groundbreaking way”
Back to Black, a new documentary about Amy will be released next month.
Unfortunately, as Amy didn’t leave a Will she couldn’t control the distribution of her assets following her death. 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.