Singer Amy Winehouse died last year in London at the age of 27. The singer had achieved remarkable success several years prior, but had since fallen on hard times. However, she left behind numerous assets and, as Forbes reports, did not have a Last Will and Testament. Though the laws of the United Kingdom are slightly different than those in the United States, there are enough similarities that we can learn a lot about our own probate process just by looking at the Winehouse Estate.
Question 1: What happens if I don’t have a Will?
Like Ms. Winehouse, if you don’t have a Last Will and Testament your property will go to specific people as determined by your state’s laws of intestate succession. These laws choose who receives your property and give your possessions to your closest family members, typically your spouse, children, or parents depending on who survives you after you die.
Question 2: Does probate cover everything you own?
Not necessarily. Though Ms. Winehouse’s probate estate was worth about $4.6 million after taxes and debts were accounted for, that doesn’t mean that was the total sum of her worth at the time of her death. If she had non-probate assets, such as Trusts, transfer on death accounts or jointly held assets, those would pass outside of the probate process and would not be included in the probate court documents.