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Amy Winehouse got her will right

The late soulstress reportedly wrote a will that excluded her ne'er-do-well ex-husband.

By Karen Datko Jul 27, 2011 6:57PM

The late Amy Winehouse was many things to many folks -- fabulous talent, an inspiration to Lady Gaga, an addict who couldn't quite shed her demons all come to mind. Add to that list: wise estate planner.


Winehouse's revised will reportedly prevents any of her fortune, estimated at $16 million and most assuredly growing, from going to her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, widely regarded as the person who introduced her to hard drugs. Instead, her millions will be divided among her father, Mitch; mother, Janis; and older brother, Alex.


"Let this be a lesson to both the famous and the obscure: A will is a good idea at any adult age," Ron Dicker wrote at DailyFinance. Post continues after video.

Fielder-Civil, now serving a sentence for burglary and possession of an imitation firearm, might have inherited everything had Winehouse not put a new will in place. Tim Worstall wrote at Forbes:

However, the one thing, under English law, that divorce does not do is undo the presumption that the natural inheritor is the spouse. In the absence of a will the surviving spouse will inherit at least the bulk of any estate.
Even in the presence of a will written pre-marriage which states otherwise the surviving spouse, or ex-spouse, will again be the natural inheritor.

How would it work in the United States? It varies from state to state, but generally if you die intestate, your estate will go to spouse and kids, or parents or siblings if you are single and don't have children.


Do you have a will? There's a good possibility you don't, even if you're well past 27. "According to an AARP survey, more than one third of Americans over 50 lack a will, living trust, or power of attorney," Kimberly Palmer wrote at U.S. News & World Report.


If you're a parent of minor children, consider yourself negligent if you don't have one. Liz Weston of MSN Money wrote: "No matter how icky you feel about planning for your own demise, you owe it to your kids to spare them the potentially ugly and drawn-out custody battle that could ensue if you don't make these decisions now."


What should you do? The hardest part is actually making the decision to get it done.


Call several recommended lawyers and see how much they charge. I paid about $150 several years ago, and that included a durable power of attorney for health care, a durable power of attorney for finances, and a living will -- three must-have documents, Weston says, even if you don't have a will. Of course, it can cost much more if your estate is complicated. The more complex the estate, the more you need legal advice, so it's well worth it.


You can do it yourself with online help if your estate is pretty simple, but Palmer pointed out some potential pitfalls:

Consumer Reports Money Advisor recently tested three online products: LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and Quicken WillMaker Plus. The verdict: Using any of these products was better than doing nothing at all, and they help users educate themselves about their estate-planning needs. But all three also had problems, including outdated information, lack of customization, and too little flexibility. They also skipped over certain topics, such as tips on creating a special-needs trust.

One last tip: It's often recommended that if you intend to leave nothing to someone who might expect to be an heir via family connection, you point that out in your will or leave them just a dollar. 


Tell us on MSN Money's Facebook page: Are you surprised Amy Winehouse had a will at age 27?


More on MSN Money:

Jul 28, 2011 10:38AM

In England a person’s last will and testament may be respected - but here in the US - any one that can afford a lawyer can fight a will.  You can end up in court for years fighting over it.  I learned this the hard way.


My advice is   - give everyone what you want before you pass away.  There are lawyers that will take money to fight anything - even a person’s last will and testament.


American lawyers are nothing more then paperwork terrorists!!!!

Jul 28, 2011 10:09AM

The point of this article is that having a will is important, and that is it.  How would you feel if your Mother/Sister/Daughter died from drug abuse, and then because of a law technicality, everything she had (all 16 Mil) went to her ex-husband? 


My sister-in-law died at the young age of 35 because of alcoholism.  In her twenties she was smart, beautiful, had a masters degree, and had the world in her palm.  But, she couldn't stop drinking.  She wasn't just someone who drank too much, she literally drank and drank and drank and just never stopped.  When she was 30 we went to the movies with her and they asked her if she wanted the senior discount, that is how badly her addiction had ravished her body.  I don't know why she could never stop drinking, but I will say this seeing it first hand; it was an illness and nothing less, and she should have been locked in a psych ward to get her the help and sobriety she so desperately needed.  If you say "I'm going to kill myself" you get locked up in a psyche ward, but if you decide to just drink yourself to death, there is nothing (legal) anyone can do to get you to stop. Maybe if there were illegal drugs involved, you could try to get the person locked up in jail.  The other thing that sticks out in my mind were all the judgmental people (some of the nurses for example) who looked at us (the family) with contempt wondering why we weren't doing more for her. Quit judging people, you don't have to like what she did, and it certainly wasn't the right thing, and yes it was selfish, but you don't know what psychological problems she had.  Unless you were up close and personal through Amy's life, then your demeaning and judgmental comments are nothing but nasty and mean.  Those of you who do this must have very sad and pathetic lives to use this tragedy to make yourself feel a little bit bigger in the world. 

Jul 28, 2011 7:40AM
It's interesting that so many people have something to say about Amy's addiction. How many of those people have ever been addicts themselves? There are so many reasons why people have problems with drugs: genetics, bad childhood, abuse, depression, low self-esteem, etc. People who are so quick to judge should realize that they never walked a day in her shoes. Please have some respect for her and her family in this difficult time.
Jul 28, 2011 11:17AM
Amy had an extraordinary voice; her talent will be missed.  I'm impressed that she was responsible enough to write a will.  So many people avoid doing it and avoid the topic altogether.
She apparently  appreciated her family enough to take care of them when she wasn't around.  Talented and very considerate.

Jul 27, 2011 10:38PM
Amy Winehouse was talented and very pretty.  She had problems--not sure why people think you are worthless if you have addiction or mental problems.  She was obviously very smart or she wouldn't have had a will.  I just wish her management would have kept her from touring again before she was ready.
Jul 28, 2011 11:12AM
I really didn't listen to Amy while she was alive, I never purchased any of her songs, her style of music is not really my thing.  Having said that, I don't know if she had talent or not.   But she was a human being, she needed help, and it seems to me many people offered to help.  But remember, the addict needs to make the decision to stop and make the change, obviously she didn't.  My heart goes out to her family, especially her mother. 
Jul 27, 2011 10:27PM
Jul 28, 2011 10:35AM

God be with Amy where ever she has been taken.   How sad this talent was destroyed by drugs, and I am glad she thought only of her mother and father and siblings to share what

she left left.   May God rest her soul in comfort, and above all, I hope her family will carry on her talents and continue to do so, so they can really realize the great talent they brought into this world.


To the family:   May your sorrow and her demons soon be healed.

Jul 27, 2011 10:17PM

The people dissing Amy's music, commenting about her no-talent and drug use probably have Hendrix, Joplin, Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain downloaded in their iPods.  If their claim is that they don't, don't believe them.  These artists are no more the "music legends" than what Amy brought to this era.  Music is music and is subjective for interpretation.  All of these young, talented artists who have died way too soon, have obviously made very poor choices in their lives, but people still talk of their talents decades later. Amy should be no different.  These young individuals all have impacted people with their music, maybe not to all their haters, but they still had people who loved them for who they were. 

Jul 28, 2011 11:10AM
Good for Amy having the clarity to take the scum that introduced her to hard drugs out of her will - R.I.P may you sing for GOD now and be at peace.
Jul 28, 2011 10:16AM

I know this article is about the death of Amy W, but I think the most important thing to take away from it is to be prepared in case of an untimely death.


While it is sad for anyone to lose their family member, the truth is none of us knew her, her family or her ex, so why do people feel the need to get on these forums and be so darn judgmental?


 I know opinions are like noses, everyone has one, but to me the jest of this was to bring awareness to getting  a will because not only does it make it easier on the family, but laws differ from state to state and we would make life easier if we were prepared.

Jul 28, 2011 8:50AM


1) love all the idiots posting "ooo slow news day" or "why write about this" when 1a) you clicked on it and 1b) you signed in to then post about it. easily taking 3-4 minutes of your time. If this was so unimportant, go write your own article, song, will, etc.


2) to the few comments about "you don't know what it's like to be an addict", i believe many people have 'worked through' their issues, whether it be the legal alcohol, illegal (but shouldn't be) weed, or tobacco.  the bottom line is you choose your way in life with the decisions you make.  what i **can't** imagine is being an addict with millions at my disposal if i theoretically wanted to get clean, it'd be more then possible to do.  the people i feel sorry for are the poor who are addicts and have no way, help or guidance to get clean.  keep it in prespective.  the charlie sheen, michael jackson and hollywood types who are so uber depressed, i quite frankly don't get.  if life's so tough, go buy an island and live on it by yourself, you have the means.


my 2.5 cents.

Jul 27, 2011 11:10PM
Glad to see he's not getting anything he ruined her life.  He even said so.  Blake is a total scumbag and the fact he can't keep out of jail is proof.
Jul 27, 2011 8:28PM
That would have been one last tragedy- the POS that killed her inheriting her money. Good job ma cherie- Beauty, talent AND intelligence. We'll miss you so. Just hope England doesn't have laws that allow said POS to challenge + keep it in court til there's nothing left.
Jul 28, 2011 12:35PM
Smart chick.  No sense in giving an ex a dime!
Jul 27, 2011 9:40PM

People who make negative hurtful comments about the deceased are very pathetic individuals, which by their ignorant comments, make them just as ugly and classless individuals as well.  Too bad people do not have a better upbringing to know better.  This would be a better world.

Jul 28, 2011 12:35PM

This is good news.  When I heard yesterday that this drugged out hanger on might inherit her money, I was horrified. 

The only bright spot to come out of this talented artist's tragic self-destruction is that her parents will get her money. 

If you have any assets at all, get a will, get a will, get a will.

Jul 28, 2011 1:13AM

Although I am older than most of you and never heard of Amy Winehouse until her death, I do have a suggestion concerning your will.  My attorney had me put the following in my will:  "If anyone contests this will they are to forfeit their inheritance and are to receive only $l.00."  This works.  It stops people from going to court and trying to break the will.


Jul 27, 2011 9:15PM
A will is a great idea at any age. I got one when I was 21.  My husband passed away in a freak accident, and learning from his mistakes of not making one, I did.  It will also save my child having to be wrung through the system if anything should happen to myself.  I think anyone with a kid should.  Helps save a lot of time and heartache later for the surviving family members. 
Jul 28, 2011 12:41PM

Amy did a smart thing to deny the one that introduced her to a life of drug addition that spiral out of control. I know there are those that said she had a choice. But when it is your husband, you are supposed to seek agreement and understanding for the relationship and household to be strong; so don't give me that crap about, "she had a choice". A spouse is not suppose to make you choose between a life of growth and enrichment, or lack and destruction.


There is no reason for a man with a mindset of illegal, irresponsible, and disregard for life should be rewarded. Your ex made his bed and now has to sleep in it. Your family's efforts to reached out and help has been rewarded for their kindness and love for who your were, are, and who you became.

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