Controversial singer Amy Winehouse is in the news again. She died last summer as a result of alcohol poisoning. After battling drug and alcohol addiction for many years, she appeared to finally be winning the battle when she unexpectedly died at age 27. Her estate has now been settled. Probate records show that she left behind property worth £4,257,580 (approximately $6,700,000).
It appears that Winehouse never bothered to do any estate planning because she died intestate (without a will). As a result, the courts decided how to distribute her property. In this case, it went to her parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse. However, by the time the probate process was complete and the government and creditors took their share, the estate was reduced to £2,944,554 (approximately $4,660,000).
Every adult should do some estate planning no matter his or her age. Failure to plan means that the courts decide what happens with your property. Having Winehouse's parents receive her estate may seem like a reasonable result, but she may have wanted to give something to her brother, her ex-husband (who she reportedly still loved-despite his drug use and prison sentence), or to charity. In addition, proper estate planning could have reduced the amount Winehouse lost to taxes or debts.
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