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Sonny Bono Died Without a Will

Most people know the tragic story of Congressman Sonny Bono’s untimely death. Sonny died following a ski accident in which he hit a tree on January 5, 1998.  Sonny died without a will. Sonny was a singer, actor and cultural celebrity in the 1960’s and 70’s. At the time of his death Sonny had three ex-wives (including Cher) four children, and several business interests.

Because Sonny died without a will, his estate was placed into the California probate process.  Sonny’s wife at the time of his death, Mary Bono, was named as the executor of his estate.

When a person dies without a will, generally the court follows the intestate laws of the state to determine how the estate assets should be distributed.  People who are not entitled to property through the intestate laws may make a claim to property if they can prove rightfully belongs to them. In Sonny’s case, Cher (his ex-wife) and another gentleman claiming to be Sonny’s son by another woman made claims against the estate.

The estate was in a complicated and expensive probate process while the various claims were addressed.  A valid will would have saved Sonny’s widow in particular a great deal of stress and time spent defending the estate and a valid will drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney is something every individual of any age should have.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Elga Goodman can help you create a plan which protects your assets, saves tax consequences, and protects loved ones. Call us today at 973-841-5111.

Posted in: Estate Planning, New York Estate Planning