Musicians Who Cut Their Kids Out Of Their Wills

If you are lucky enough to be the child of a wildly successful musician, you may rest easy knowing you are set for life when they ultimately kick the bucket. The biggest stars often make so much money their children never really have to work at all.

On the other hand, many wealthy celebrities choose — rightly or wrongly — to punish their offspring by cutting them out of their wills. Intense family feuds often lead to intense inheritance battles, and those born to a hated ex-lover or spouse are often found guilty by association and left out in the cold.

Some stars also believe that cutting their offspring off is a blessing — one that will save them from a life of directionless apathy, saddled with too much money to bother to get off the couch. People who value hard work often see money as a curse that spoils children rotten. Increasingly, major stars are declaring they'd rather give their money to charity, or simply fritter it away. Rarely do the children of dead celebrities accept the wisdom of their tight-fisted parents, however. Some of these inheritance cases have led to lengthy court battles, with estranged children desperate to get their hands on their parent's millions.

Marie Osmond

The undeniably wholesome pop and country-western singer Marie Osmond is all about family. She shot to fame at a young age as part of the Osmond troupe and is best known for performing with her brother Donny. As an adult, she has raised eight kids, five of whom she adopted. It might come as a surprise, then, that she intends to leave her children with no inheritance. In Osmond's mind, this is an act of tough love — a way of ensuring that her kids have the best start in life and are driven to find their real passions.

Osmond told US Weekly, "Honestly, why would you enable your child to not try to be something? I don't know anybody who becomes anything if they're just handed money ... To me, the greatest gift you can give your child is a passion to search out who they are inside and to work." The country star has mentioned her views on fame and fortune in a number of interviews, stating that she intends to enjoy her fortune while she is alive and that she wants to give a good portion of it away to charity.

Today, many of her kids have found success on their own, both in and out of the spotlight. Her son Brandon Warren Blosil, for example, is the bassist for the popular metalcore band Navarre, while her daughter Jessica Marie Blosil is a police officer.

Johnny Hallyday

French rock 'n' roll legend Johnny Hallyday blew through four wives while he was alive and raised four children. Among them, his two biological kids — his daughter Laura Smet by ex-partner Nathalie Baye and his son David Hallyday by ex-wife Sylvie Vartan — were completely excluded from his will in favor of his two adopted children. The one-sided will caused an uproar in France when Hallyday's fourth wife and widow, Laeticia Hallyday, was named the executor of his estate upon his demise. Unlike in the U.S., excluding your children from your will is illegal in France, and the estate was immediately frozen while the case went to court. According to NPR, many French people saw it as unfair and came out in support of Hallyday's kids.

The singer, who is often compared to Elvis Presley in France, amassed a considerable fortune throughout his 50-year-long career and named one of his hits songs "Laura" after his daughter. Yet, Smet was not left with even a single scrap of memorabilia from her father despite discussing grandchildren with him just weeks before his death. The family eventually reached a settlement with Laeticia, the details of which were not officially disclosed.


Both as a solo artist and a member of the Police, Sting has made a fortune writing and playing music, his wealth stretching into the hundreds of millions. However, the iconic rockstar had a humble start in life, growing up as the son of a hairdresser and milkman down by the Wallsend shipyards in Northumberland, England. Before he became famous he worked as both a teacher and a bus conductor, and only after a period of hard graft did he become a rock icon, coming to notoriety with the hit song "Roxanne."

Concerned that his eight children will not have his work ethic or humility, Sting has announced he will not be passing on his mega-millions to his kids. In an interview with the Mail Online, he said, "I certainly don't want to leave them trust funds that are albatrosses round their necks. They have to work. All my kids know that and they rarely ask me for anything, which I really respect and appreciate." Commenting about his days as a jobbing musician, he remarked, "I came up in an era of playing pubs for ten quid each and going back night after night. I served on the shop floor. It builds a resilience and a toughness." The singer pointed out that he is already spending his money and so won't be able to pass it on anyway.

James Brown

Grand-daddy of soul James Brown was once a real ladies' man and upon his death, multiple heirs came out of the woodwork to claim their inheritance. Brown had at least nine children (that he acknowledged), but he only recognized six of them in his will. The scramble for Brown's fortune led to one of the biggest celebrity estate battles in history, a fight that lasted 15 years and involved multiple lawsuits. 

Originally, Brown had left most of his money to fund scholarships for needy children in South Carolina and Georgia. Five of Brown's children would ultimately challenge the will, accusing his advisors of having too much influence over Brown's final decisions and potentially trying to enrich themselves while managing his trusts. Although together Brown's children won a settlement that split part of the estate between them in 2009, the ruling was overturned again in 2013.

Shockingly, one of the children to miss out on the enormous fortune was James Jr., then just a small child and the son of Brown's widow, Tomie Rae Hynie. His mother's claim to the estate was ultimately rejected by the court when it was discovered she had never divorced her previous husband before shacking up with Brown, and so technically could not have legally married him. Brown's last wishes were ultimately largely respected by the time the case concluded. His estate was finally sold for a whopping $90 million in 2021, with the vast majority of the proceeds earmarked for the scholarship fund.

Alejandra Guzmán

The Queen of Mexican rock, Alejandra Guzmán is well-known in the Spanish-speaking world for her turbulent family life. The star, who has sold 12 million records worldwide, has been releasing hit albums since the late 1980s. Today she is more often in the press for feuding with her daughter, model and songwriter Frida Sofía. In 2022, Guzmán announced she would be leaving Sofía out of her will.

The dramatic family feud began after Sofía publicly accused her grandfather, singer Enrique Guzmán, of molesting her from the age of just 5 years old. Sofía told her story very publicly on television, during an emotional interview that garnered a shocked response from her family. Enrique has since denied the claims made against him by his granddaughter, stating that Sofía needs psychological help.

The feud that unfolded following the accusations has been aired in public on social media and has ultimately culminated with Guzmán disinheriting her daughter. According to People Magazine En Español, Guzmán has stated that although she has let her daughter keep an apartment she bought, she will not be leaving her a slice of her fortune and has already named a new heir. Sofía responded to the news on social media, writing, "When they 'disinherit' you but the party goes on."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

David Cassidy

Songwriter and actor David Cassidy had two children while he was alive but favored only one of them. Upon his death, court documents obtained by The Blast revealed he had left $1.68 million to his son Beau Cassidy, including all assets and his life insurance policy — but nothing to his daughter.

Before he died, the star explained to People magazine that he barely raised his daughter Katie Cassidy, who was largely brought up by her mom, model Sherry Williams, and step-father, Richard Benedon. While for many years this separation did not prevent a warm friendship from forming between them, they had become estranged from each other not long before Cassidy died.

Despite losing out on a small fortune, Katie reacted with unusual grace when talking about her deceased father. She affectionately noted, "He left me with really great advice. He was like: 'Don't ever stop going to class. That's where you should put your money ... And that's what I do, and I've been able to go from nothing to where I am today and it's built confidence and self-esteem" (via People). Despite being the child of a celebrity, Katie has said she knows how to budget and did not grow up with a glamorous, wealthy lifestyle. Today she has achieved considerable success in her own right, working as an actress.

John Lennon

In the 1970s, John Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono was extremely controversial. Ono was blamed for breaking apart the Beatles and for destroying Lennon's family with his first wife, Cynthia Lennon. John abandoned his wife as well as his eldest son, Julian Lennon, when he was just 5 years old. In life and in death, Lennon came to favor his child by Ono, Sean Lennon. By the time Lennon was assassinated in 1980, Julian had reportedly been cut out of Lennon's will entirely.

Ono was ultimately made executor of Lennon's £220 million estate, but Julian, who Ono once considered too immature to handle a fortune, was not shut out in the cold forever. Around 16 years after the will was originally executed, Ono allowed Julian a share of his father's estate. It is believed he got around £20 million from a settlement deal.

Although in the past Julian has spoken bitterly about his father's behavior (Lennon once told Julian that he was the product of whiskey, his other son the product of love), in 2009, he told CBS News that he has finally forgiven his father. "I realized if I continued to feel that anger and bitterness towards my dad, I would have a constant cloud hanging over my head my whole life."

Don Mclean

When Don McLean disinherited his daughter Jackie, she knew it was coming. The singer had threatened to cut her off financially if she continued to speak out against him in public. Jackie did not relent, however, and ultimately lost her $3 million inheritance.

In a shocking interview with Rolling Stone, Jackie described her childhood with McLean as walking on eggshells to avoid his vicious temper. Talking about the mental abuse she endured in great detail, she alleged that the fearful atmosphere her father created was so bad that she goes into cold sweats just thinking about it. She claimed, "There was a constant state of fear in the house about the slightest thing [that] would make my dad turn into a crazy person." McLean has denied the abuse allegations, claiming that he was, on the contrary, a good father and that he believed his daughter was simply courting publicity. Now also a musician, the younger McLean has exorcised much of her trauma through her work, talking about her dad on her album "Another Life."

Jackie's story was backed up by her mother, Patrisha McLean, who expressed disgust over her ex-husband's will in an interview with Page Six. She said, "He's punishing the children. It's disgusting. He's merciless. He has no shame. The cruelty knows no bounds." Patrisha, who now runs a domestic abuse charity, has also spoken extensively about McLean's abusive behavior. The couple divorced in 2016, after he was arrested for domestic abuse and pleaded guilty to four of the six charges against him.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Glen Campbell

Country singer Glen Campbell cut three of his eight children out of his will, leading to a lengthy legal battle after his death. Campbell had been married four times but only chose to punish the children he had by his second wife, Billie Jean Nunley. The couple divorced in 1976, after having three children together: Wesley, Kelli, and Travis.

The will was contested in a Tennessee court in 2018. Glen's widow Kim Campbell, who stuck by him during his battle with Alzheimer's, was named executor of the will. She did not challenge the children's right to contest.

It is not known why Campbell chose to exclude his children by Nunley, but it is known that the couple sometimes had a difficult relationship. In an interview with People magazine in 1976, the country singer told the press that Nunley had disliked his music, including his celebrated hit "Rhinestone Cowboy." It was ultimately Nunley who left the singer, with Campbell claiming that he had no intention of ending the relationship. Wesley, Kelli, and Travis eventually abandoned their claim to Campbell's will without a settlement. The entire estate was valued at just $420,221.

Ric Ocasek

Musician and producer Ric Ocasek's estate became a big news story in 2021, two years after he suddenly died in the middle of a divorce. In his last few weeks on earth, he made major changes to his will, cutting out his wife, Paulina Porizkova, as well as his two oldest sons by another marriage. Ocasek, who had six sons in total, had Adam and Christopher with his first wife, Constance Campbell. Ocasek left Campbell while she was still pregnant with their second child.

Speaking to Page Six, Christopher has publicly criticized his father for being a bad dad who barely saw him as a child, saying, "My father, in essence, died the day I was born. He was never present, he was never there. Even when he was, he was never there and that's the abandonment that I'm referring to." Christopher labeled his father a "narcissist," who he believed only got in touch at all in order to tell the family he was now famous. On the anniversary of his father's death, he posted a picture of Ocasek standing with him and his brother Adam on Instagram, captioning the post "You don't exist. We didn't either."

In 2021, Porizkova reached a settlement that awarded her part of Ocasek's estate, but details were kept under wraps. News reports made no mention of Adam or Christopher. 

Naomi Judd

Troubled country singer Naomi Judd died by suicide in 2022, after a long battle with depression. In the days that followed, it was discovered that Judd had left both her daughters out of her will, awarding the entirety of her estate to her husband, Larry Strickland.

The inheritance revelation was especially surprising given that Ashley Judd in particular is known to have been very close to her mother. It was Ashley who found her mother's body on one of her daily visits to the house. In public, Ashley has spoken extensively about her grief, including in a lengthy piece for The New York Times in which she wrote about the difficulty of dealing with rumors about her family and invasive questioning by police.

While the story made headlines across the U.S., one legal expert, Jason Goldman, told Page Six that it may well have been a practical decision and not a snub. He stated that Judd was most likely acting on legal advice, and would probably have been told that it would be simpler for the family to name her husband as the sole executor.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.