Sonny Bono’s Procrastination in Creating a Will Led to Years of Estate Battles

Sonny Bono’s Procrastination in Creating a Will Led to Years of Estate Battles

Sonny Bono, the singer, songwriter, restauranteur, and former Congressman, died in a tragic ski accident in 1998 at the age of 62. His net worth was just under $2 million at the time of his death, yet Bono did not have a will. Apparently, he meant to have one drawn up, but simply never got around to it.

Sadly, his fourth wife and surviving spouse, former Representative Mary Bono, spent years battling to be the executor of his estate. She also faced lawsuits filed by anyone and everyone who wanted a piece of the pie – some of whom you wouldn’t believe…

Cher & Secret Love Child Want Piece of Sonny’s Estate

Having died intestate (without a will), Sonny Bono’s estate was seemingly up for grabs. His surviving spouse had to specifically fend off two people whose demands on the estate made headlines:

  • Yes, THE Cher, Sonny’s second wife, sued for a share of his estate seeking $1.6 million in unpaid alimony. When the couple divorced in 1974, Sonny was allegedly ordered to pay Cher $25,000 per month for six months, $1,500 per month child support, and $41,000 in attorneys’ fees.

    Apparently, he never did. While it’s odd that someone with their own net worth of over $300 million would even bother taking the time, it’s nonetheless true. Whether she collected is anyone’s guess, but not likely.

  • Secret Love Child. As if Cher’s lawsuit wasn’t odd enough, a secret love child made his own claim on Sonny’s estate. Then 35-year-old Sean Machu came forward claiming to be Bono’s illegitimate son.

    Although Bono admitted to having an affair with Machu’s mother in his autobiography, The Beat Goes On, and Machu’s birth certificate lists Salvatore Bono (aka Sonny) as the father, Machu later withdrew the lawsuit when a DNA test was required.

Bono’s estate was eventually divided between his surviving spouse and his two children, Chastity (now Chaz) Bono and Christy Bono Fasce (a child from his first marriage).

Don’t Leave Your Wealth Up For Grabs – Take Action Now!

As Sonny Bono’s case shows, not having a will, trust, or other estate planning documents in place gives others the sense that your wealth is up for grabs.  Most of us don’t relish the idea of creating a plan for what will happen when we die.  However, it’s a necessity in order to avoid having your spouse and children go through court battles and heartache.

It’s imperative that you take action now.  We have the tools you need to put your estate plan into place so that procrastination is not an issue.  Wouldn’t it feel good to know that you’ve done the right thing for your family?

What Next?

If you think it might be time to think through your estate plan, you can:

  1. Give us a call at 303-578-2745 to schedule a “Discovery Session” at which we can determine whether our firm would be a good fit for your needs. Or fill out our contact form to have us call you.
  2. Visit our estate planning page to learn more about how proactively thinking through your estate plan can protect you and your family, minimize hassle, lower the chance of family discord, and minimize or eliminate taxes.
  3. Get a copy of our estate planning checklist to see where you currently stand.
  4. Learn more by attending one of our free webinars, reading our blog, or watching our videos.

 

(Photo credit: By CBS Television – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23482437)

Dan McKenzie
Dan McKenzie
dan@themckenziefirm.com

Dan specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and small business counsel. He opened the McKenzie Law Firm in 2013, after spending 10 years as a litigator, seeing what can happen when people fail to carefully identify and mitigate their risks. He is pleased to be raising four kids in the same state where he grew up.