Inheritance Claim - The Battle For The Estate Of Jimi Hendrix
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Jimi Hendrix, often referred to as the greatest guitarist of all time, died in 1970 at the age of just 27. Of course, he never expected to die so young; no-one ever does. Although Jimi Hendrix only lived to the age of 27, more than 34 years later a court case was still churning on to decide who should receive the profits from his estate.

There have been a number of lawsuits surrounding Jimi Hendrix’s estate, from record company profits to royalty rights and legal battles over naming issues, but by 2004 his own family were still going through the courts in an inheritance claim battle over who should receive the value of his estate. The real issue came about for one reason: Jimi Hendrix never wrote a will.

Jimi’s father, Al, was put in charge of his estate in 1995 after an attorney had been running it since his death. When Al himself died in 2002, the estate was worth more than $80million, the bulk of which went to Al’s adopted daughter, Janie. As Janie was not a blood relative of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi’s brother, Leon, took umbrage at this and alleged that Janie had manipulated Al into leaving the estate to her.

In court, the judge decided that Janie hadn’t manipulated Al, but that Leon’s drug use and threats had convinced Al to change his will. With Al trusting Janie more than Leon, the estate was largely passed to her. The real truth is that this is only the ruling of one judge — no-one knows and will ever know what Jimi Hendrix would have wanted to happen. If he had recorded this in a legal document, such as a will, the whole unpleasant saga could have been easily avoided.

Jimi Hendrix never expected to die at the age of 27, but the truth is that anyone can die at any time and provisions need to be made in case such a thing should happen. The fact that his case involved American law is irrelevant – the UK sadly very similar battles in contesting a will and the number of these cases is rising.

Legal battles don’t get any smaller just because your estate is smaller, either. Even though you may deem your estate to be practically worthless, family battles and personal pride can mean that the legal process involved in contesting a will or an inheritance claim could drag on long after your death, potentially destroying your family. Putting together a will now can help avoid that altogether.

If you have children, living family or are unmarried, a will is vital in order to ensure your estate is distributed the way you want it to be in the event of your death. Indeed, if you are married but going through a divorce, your spouse would still potentially receive your estate if you were to die before your divorce has been finalised. Taking care of the legalities now will ensure that no problems can arise after you have died. Having a will drawn up doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive, and speaking to a good solicitor can make the whole process much easier.

Wills should be updated regularly, in order that you can ensure the contents still reflect your wishes. Indeed, an old will can be more easily contested by family members who could argue that your wishes had since changed, so updating a will can ensure that this likelihood is minimised. All in all, speaking to a specialist solicitor is absolutely vital and will ensure that your loved ones are cared for in the way in which you’d like in the event of your death.

The alternative is probably the very last thing you had on your mind - leaving your loved ones to rip apart your family in a slow, ugly and expensive contested probate case. Inheritance claims really are that bad – and they are often simply prevented by an inexpensive up-to-date will.

If you feel you need a solicitor to help contest a will, contact Bonallack and Bishop.


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