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:
1.Cher. 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.
a. 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.
2. 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.
b. 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. If you want to ensure that your family is cared for, please click here to schedule your complimentary Estate Planning Strategy Call with San Francisco’s premier estate planning attorney, Matthew J. Tuller.