Celebrity Estate Lessons: Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse
It's always sad when a public figure dies very young and it often means they didn't take the time to plan for their passing. After all, they're going to live forever, right? When Amy Winehouse died at the age of 27 in 2011, initial reports stated that not only had she written a Will, but she had updated it to exclude her ex-husband, whom she divorced in 2009. Sadly, these accounts were proven wrong and Amy had, in fact, never had any estate planning paperwork drafted. Probate was done in the UK and her entire estate went to her parents. It was valued at $4.66 million (£2.94 million for my friends across the pond).
Everything went normally and seemed fine, for a while. In 2019, Amy's ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil filed a lawsuit for £1 million ($1.38 million). Turns out he wasn't as civil as his name may make it seem. He claimed he was owed this much because he was married to Amy when her best-selling music was released.Her parents disagreed.
At the time of the divorce, Amy gave Blake £250,000 ($346,000). His claim for more money will depend if this payoff represented a "clean break." If so, no lawsuit would proceed. You might be wondering who owns the rights to Winehouse's works, a very valuable asset. In this case, Universal Music Group retains the rights and released a remix album in 2021. CEO David Joseph destroyed her demo recordings in 2015 so they would never be released. One demo, however, made it to YouTube in 2018, but the video has since been made private.
Again, it's never too early to have your estate plan drawn up, regardless of how little you may own. Take the time to contact an attorney and have something drawn up. When you pass, it can help your family out in a time of deep grief and shock, especially if the death is unexpected, like Amy's.