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Celebrities who died without a will in 2016

For many people, 2016 is a year that will be infamous for the large number of celebrities who sadly passed away. David Bowie, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Alan Rickman are just some of the famous faces who have died over the last 12 months.

Stars often leave behind millions of dollars worth of wealth and assets, which can lead to inheritance disputes among family and friends if there are no clear instructions as to how to divide the estate between loved ones.

Despite this, even some of the world’s biggest names don’t write wills, meaning the distribution of their assets can become a hotly contested issue. Let’s take a look at the celebrities who didn’t leave a will in 2016.


The American singer-songwriter won multiple Grammy awards and an Academy Award during his illustrious career. The Purple Rain singer sold over 100 million records before dying of an accidental overdose in April last year at 57 years old.

However, Prince had no will, despite possessing an estimated fortune of approximately US$300 million (AU$408.5 million). The late star’s sister, Tyka Nelson, told ET approximately 195,000 people came forward to stake a claim on his riches by saying they were relatives, all of whom were unsuccessful.

Nearly nine months on, and the estate has still not been distributed. Prince had one sister and five half-siblings, but no spouse or children.

Caroline Aherne

Aherne is admittedly more famous in the UK than Australia, with the actress and comedienne renowned for her mock chat program The Mrs Merton Show, as well as the critically acclaimed The Royle Family TV series.

Nevertheless, Aherne did move to Australia in the early 2000s and wrote Dossa and Joe – a short-lived Sydney-based comedy that was well received by critics, but failed to attract viewers.

She died of cancer last year aged 52, leaving a £500,000 (AU$827,000) estate. UK intestacy laws meant that her mother, Maureen, was the sole beneficiary.

Muhammad Ali

Ali is the odd one out on this list, as the heavyweight boxer did write a will before he died. However, since his death aged 74 in June, Ali’s US$80 million estate has been at the centre of an inheritance dispute between his widow and nine children.

According to the UK’s Daily Mirror, his children are unhappy that the boxer’s spouse, Lonnie, will receive double the US$6 million inheritance each of the siblings are allegedly due.

“They all play nice-nicey now, but simmering tension goes back decades. None of the kids trust Lonnie, all are from different mothers and hate each other,” an anonymous insider was quoted as saying.

Would you like to know more about contesting a will in Australia? Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers for further guidance.

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