Famous faces who died without leaving a will

Prince is not the first celebrity to die without a will. It can cause families endless headaches

Prince Dies Suddenly At 57

When Prince passed away without leaving a will, he joined a long list of people who made the same mistake.

From a TV presenter to a singer and a comedian, we reveal the Brits who fell into the common trap of not thinking about a will before it was too late.

Jill Dando
Juror casts doubt on Dando murder conviction

TV presenter Jill Dando was murdered in 1999. She was 37 and had no will, so despite the fact she was due to get married later that year, her partner did not inherit any of her £1.18 million estate. Instead it passed to her father (who was in his 80s) - under the rules of intestacy.

Rik Mayall

British Comedy Awards 2011 - London
Comedian Rik Mayall died without making a will in 2014. He was only 56, and so may have thought he didn't need to rush to make one.

His estate was divided according to the rules of intestacy, so his wife received the first £250,000 from his estate, and half of the rest automatically passed to his children. This may not have been exactly what he wanted, especially as it triggered a large inheritance tax bill on his £1.2 million estate.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse: Reactions to Her Tragic Passing

When singer Amy Winehouse passed away in 2011 she was only 27, so had unsurprisingly not got around to making a will. As a result, her £3 million fortune passed to her parents, so that ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil received nothing from her estate.


The actor best known for playing Trigger in Only Fools and Horses had a fortune of £1.4 million when he died at the age of 69 in 2014. Unfortunately, he failed to leave a will, so the estate was divided according to the rules, and triggered a major tax bill for his widow and children.


Often it's entirely understandable why people don't leave a will - especially when they are young and have no reason to suspect they will die any time soon. However, regardless of how easy it is to make this mistake - the repercussions remain horrible for loved ones left behind.

If you die without a will, your wishes will not be taken into consideration, so your estate will be divided according to very specific rules. If there are no children, your spouse receives everything.

If there are children or grandchildren, the first £250,000 of your estate goes to your spouse or civil partner, along with all of your personal belongings and half of the remaining estate. The other half is divided equally among the children - who receive it at the age of 18. If the children have died, but there are grandchildren, then the grandchildren take an equal share.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will receive nothing. If you are divorced, your partner will also get nothing.

If there is no spouse or civil partner, children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, then parents, brothers, sisters and nieces and nephews may inherit.

Aside from not being able to choose beneficiaries, there are other problems with relying on this system, because you cannot choose your own executor, and you cannot mitigate the tax, so your family will lose a large chunk of your estate.

Andrew Wilkinson, partner and will dispute specialist at Shakespeare Martineau says: "Relying on intestacy provisions [when you do not have a will] can be extremely risky and could end up costing your loved ones dearly."

"As the effect of the intestacy provisions depends on the value of your estate, they can result in assets ending up with unintended beneficiaries. As family structures are now more complex than ever, ensuring your estate is administered as you wish, is crucial. To ensure your estate is distributed as intended, creating a will safeguards your wishes."

Sister of Prince Says Singer Had No Will

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