Sonny Bono, John Denver, and Other Celebs Who Died without a Will

Gracious Egedegbe
Mar 21, 2019
02:20 P.M.

Have you ever wondered what happens to a celebrity’s’ wealth after passing on? These are a few notable celebrities that died without leaving instructions on how their wealth should be dispensed.


More often than not, people aren’t aware that death is just around the corner waiting to grab them with its cold hands. This makes it a common occurrence to be unprepared for death. Furthermore, It is common knowledge that most celebrities will get even richer after death and something has to happen to all that money.

Bob Marley | Photo: Getty Images

Bob Marley | Photo: Getty Images

There have been quite a number of stupidly rich stars that died without leaving a will, here’s what happened in the aftermath.

Sonny Bono

Sonny, a legendary singer, and politician died in the January 1998 after hitting a tree while skiing at a resort in California. He was survived by a wife and four children, two of whom were from previous marriages.

Sonny Bono | Photo: Getty Images

Sonny Bono | Photo: Getty Images

Soon after Sonny’s death, things got a bit messy as he didn’t leave a will. His wife, Mary had to go through probate court hoping to be in charge of his estate. Meanwhile, his ex-wife, Cher sued for unpaid alimony, and an individual claiming to be an illegitimate child of Sonny appeared out of nowhere trying to get a piece of the cake. However, after a failed DNA test, the claim was withdrawn.

Sonny’s estate was eventually divided among his wife and two children from two out of three previous marriages.

John Denver

John was an American singer-songwriter who died unexpectedly in a plane crash in October 1997. He was flying the plane, and there were no occupants in it.

John Denver | Photo: Getty Images

John Denver | Photo: Getty Images

Denver died alone without leaving a will behind but was survived by three children. His ex-wife was eventually named the executor of his estate, and she shared his assets equally among the three children.

Bob Marley

Also a legendary singer and songwriter, Bob died of cancer in 1981 and left behind no will, but a wife and 11 children. Bob had enough time to come up with one; he battled cancer for a whole year before his death.

Bob Marley in Montego Bay in Jamaica. | Photo: Getty Images

Bob Marley in Montego Bay in Jamaica. | Photo: Getty Images


Anyway, up until 30 years after the singer’s passing, his family fought seriously over his estate. According to Jamaican law, the wealth was to be shared amongst the family members, which eventually happened. It’s still very likely that disputes will continue over the legends estate.

Amy Winehouse

Amy was another singer and songwriter that died unexpectedly of alcohol poisoning in 2011. She had no will, but her $4.6million estate was handed over to her closest relatives — her parents.

Amy Winehouse on the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm, Pilton near Glastonbury, on June 22 2007 in Somerset, England | Photo: Getty Images

Amy Winehouse on the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm, Pilton near Glastonbury, on June 22 2007 in Somerset, England | Photo: Getty Images

Her father was named the executor, and her ex-husband was given nothing. Some say Amy wouldn’t have wanted her father to inherit anything from her, as they had a controversial relationship.

Some other celebrities that died without leaving a will behind include Tupac Shakur, Kurt Cobain, Howard Hughes, Pablo Picasso, Jimi Hendrix, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Prince.

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