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famous people without a will

5 famous people who died without a will

It was a startling surprise to find how famous people who have passed without having a will in place. With fame and fortune, there is an assumption that they would have something in writing or a will stating what they would like done with their estate but they are human too. It is not just the wealthy and famous that don’t have estate documents in place either, a Rocket Lawyer survey done in 2016 revealed that 61% of Americans did not have a will. Not having a will in place can leave your loved ones in a battle over the estate that can last for years.

Although laws regarding wills can vary state to state, one thing remains the same: if you don’t have a will in place, the government will make one for you. What does that mean? Your assets and estate are distributed according to the generic laws in your state. This can means the government will split your belonging between your next of kin, spouse, and children. But who gets what? And who has to deal with actually distributing your assets? This is where it can become a headache and cause a battle with your loved ones. If you don’t make a will during your life, the rules in your state make these decisions for you. Here are a few famous people who have died without a will and left it in the hands of the government to handle:


Prince died in 2016, and over 45 people came forward claiming to have some tie to him and his estate. Early this year, a judge confirmed Prince’s six siblings to be the true heirs to his estate. The siblings at this time are still waiting to inherit their shares.

Michael Jackson

In 2009 after his death, his mother filed documents claiming that he died without a will. It was later discovered that he did actually have a will. It was drawn up a few years before his death.

Kurt Cobain

He left behind a suicide note but failed to leave a will in place. He died at 27 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It has been reported that he had met with a lawyer to draw up a will removing his wife, Courtney Love from any rights of his but one was never found. The estate was inherited by Courtney and later ended up in a trust left for their daughter Frances.


Tupac died at the age of 25. After his death, there was a long battle between both his parents regarding his estate. California law states that his father would have to show that he had been in a relationship with Tupac’s mother and provided financial support to be able to inherit any part of his estate. His mother won and ended up putting his estate into a trust to keep it protected.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix passed away in 1970. A family dispute over Jimi’s estate lastest over 30 years. A settlement between Hendrix’s brother and adopted sister was finally settled in 2015. The amount of the settlement was never disclosed.

What can you learn from those famous people who died without a will?

  • It’s never too late – a person can pass away at any age at any time.
  • If you don’t have a will, there is no control over who inherits what.
  • There could be a long drawn out legal battle regarding the estate.

Give your loved ones the peace of mind that things are being handled the way you would like. If you have any questions regarding estate planning, Rocket Lawyer is here to help. Ask a lawyer a question or check out our estate planning guide.

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