Celebrity Estate Lessons - Sonny Bono
May 16th, 2022
Sadly, when it came to his estate plan, Sonny Bono did not have his, babe. He died unexpectedly in 1998 in a ski accident. He may have had flowers in the spring, but he didn't have a Will.
Dying intestate (fancy lawyer word for without a Will) opened his estate up to lawsuits and two major ones were filed, one by Cher and one by a secret love child.
As part of their 1974 divorce, Bono was to pay alimony to Cher in the amount of $1,500 a month for child support, $41,000 in attorney fees, and $25,000 a month for six months (the latter perhaps to help pay rent since, you know, their love won't). He never did so Cher filed suit to recoup the $1.6 million in unpaid alimony.
His illegitimate son made a claim as well. Bono admitted to an affair with Sean Machu's mother in his autobiography and is listed on Machu's birth certificate. However, he withdrew the lawsuit when a DNA test was required.
Cher sued Mary Bono (Sonny's final wife) again in 2021 when she allegedly attempted to terminate facets of the 1978 agreement covering Sonny and Cher's joint music ventures. This agreement stated Cher should receive “as her sole and separate property throughout the world and in perpetuity, fifty percent of their rights in musical composition royalties, record royalties, and other assets.” This was filed in October 2021, so I wasn't able to find any follow up information yet about the suit.
So what ultimately ended up happening with Bono's initial estate? It was divided evenly between Mary Bono and his two children, Chaz Bono and Christy Bono Face (his daughter from his first marriage).
Do I really need to list out the moral of this one? Write a Will everyone! Put something down! If you're not sure where to start, we can help.