Personal Finance

12 music superstars who died without leaving a will

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: Aretha Franklin performs at the International Jazz Day Concert on the South Lawn of the White House on April 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. The event was presented by actor Morgan Freeman and included remarks by President Obama. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)
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"Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin, who reportedly had no will or trust, is only the latest instance of an entertainment giant apparently neglecting financial matters until it's too late. These 11 other music superstars also sang or strummed their hearts out on the way to worldwide fame and untold fortune — only to fail to protect their portfolios and pass them safely on to heirs by neglecting to draw up a last will and testament. As the stories of these celebrities attest, everyone — rich or poor, famous or not — can make bad financial decisions. Soul and R&B legend Franklin, who passed on Aug. 16 at age 76 from pancreatic cancer, was worth an estimated $80 million at the time of her death. Franklin's four sons have reportedly filed paperwork as "interested parties" in her estate, while the Detroit Free Press has reported that a niece is petitioning to serve as "personal representative of the estate."

"Some of the most important financial planning recommendations do not fall within the realm of investment, insurance or retirement planning, but instead involve estate planning with wills, powers of attorney and advance directives," , wealth advisor and director of personal finance for Buckingham and the BAM Alliance and author of "Simple Money," told CNBC in April 2016 when Prince died of an accidental drug overdose at age 57.

"We avoid the discussion because it involves a topic we'd rather not consider, but while the probability of your imminent passing is low, the damage done from a lack of estate planning is so significant that it demands our immediate attention."

— By CNBC's Kenneth Kiesnoski


MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 04: Prince performs during the 'Pepsi Halftime Show' at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Died: April 21, 2016 (age 57)

Cause of death: Accidental drug overdose

Reported size of estate at death: $300 million

Amy Winehouse

GLASTONBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 28: Amy Winehouse performs on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 28 2008 in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. Nearly 175,000 people were expected to be on site for the three-day music festival which started yesterday and features headline acts Kings of Leon, rapper Jay-Z and Britpop veterans The Verve. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
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Died: July 23, 2011 (age 27)

Cause of death: Alcohol poisoning

Reported size of estate at death: $4.66 million

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana during the taping of MTV Unplugged at Sony Studios in New York City, 11/18/93.
Frank Micelotta Archive | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Died: April 5, 1994 (age 27)

Cause of death: Suicide

Reported size of estate: $450 million

Tupac Shakur

Rapper/actor Tupac Shakur holding legal documents while gesturing w. hands outside courthouse after his arrest on charges of sodomy involving 20-yr-old woman. (Photo by Kimberly Butler/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Kimberly Butler | The LIFE Images Collection | Getty Images

Died: Sept. 13, 1996 (age 25)

Cause of death: Homicide

Reported size of estate at death: $40 million

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix
The Evening Standard | Getty Images

Died: Sept. 18, 1970 (age 27)

Cause of death: Suspected drug overdose

Reported size of estate at death: $175 million

Bob Marley

Bob Marley
Andrew Hussein | Getty Images

Died: May 11, 1981 (age 36)

Cause of death: Cancer

Reported size of estate at death: $30 million

Sonny Bono

12th December 1967: A headshot of married American pop singers Cher (left) and Sonny Bono (1935 - 1998) of the pop duo Sonny and Cher at an S.D.G. party for actor James Coburn. Cher has bangs and a bouffant ponytail on top of her head; she wears dramatic eye makeup and false eye lashes. Sonny wears a bohemian peasant blouse with floral embroidery. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)
Frank Edwards | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Died: Jan. 5, 1998 (age 62)

Cause of death: Skiing accident

Reported size of estate at death: $15 million

Barry White

Barry White in concert circa 1980's (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Jeffrey Mayer | WireImage | Getty Images

Died: July 4, 2003 (age 58)

Cause of death: Stroke

Reported size of estate at death: $20 million

Marvin Gaye

American Soul musician Marvin Gaye (1939 - 1984) performs onstage at the Holiday Star Theater, Merrillville, Indiana, June 10, 1983. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
Paul Natkin | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Died: April 1, 1984 (age 44)

Cause of death: Homicide

Reported size of estate at death: $5 million

John Denver

American musician John Denver (1943 - 1997) performs on stage at Chicagofest, Chicago, Illinois, August 9, 1982. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
Paul Natkin | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Died: Oct. 12, 1997 (age 53)

Cause of death: Airplane crash

Reported size of estate at death: $60 million

Billie Holiday

1st February 1942: American jazz singer Billie Holiday (1915 - 1959) sings in front of a microphone at a Sunday afternoon jam session at Ryan's on 52nd Street, New York City. (Photo by Charles Peterson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Charles Peterson | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Died: July 17, 1959 (age 44)

Cause of death: Cirrhosis/heart failure/pulmonary edema

Reported size of estate at death: $1 million