Lessons from Amy Winehouse on designing your legacy
The singer and songwriter died of alcohol poisoning in 2012. She died without a Will, which meant the courts got to decide who inherited her 4.6 million dollar legacy.
Amy Winehouse’s example reminds us of the beauty of a creative life.
It also reminds of the hassle the family have to go through to protect her legacy. Mitch and Janis Winehouse, Amy’s parents, had to make an application for Grant of Probate so Mitch could be made administrator of the estate. That might not sound like such a big deal. But the Grant of Probate is expensive and mega time-consuming in terms of administrative demands.
For a grieving family, any additional work is just one extra stressor they don’t need, right?
Apart from this, there’s one other issue that Amy raises.
You see, Mitch is not happy with the film. He is reported as saying, “There is so much more to Amy than what’s portrayed in the film.”
If Amy made a Will, she could have stipulated who controlled the management rights of her music and her brand after she died. She would have had a say in who told the stories told after her death. And how they were told.
In other words, she could have designed her legacy. And if you listen to Winehouse talk about the her work, it seems as though she would have wanted integrity and authenticity to be part of how she’s remembered as an artist.
Of course, most of you do not anticipate having a film made about you.
But when I talk to creatives about legacy, my point always returns to the fact that it’s impossible to predict how creative products and artefacts are going to be received in the public realm.
That small storybook you have stuffed in your top drawer, or the images you’ve been sketching for your own fun or the contributions you’re making to social shifts – well, you never know where they’ll lead to.
Even on a smaller scale, leaving it to your family to make decisions about what happens to your work, your memories and the stories told about you burdens them.
And this ultimately leads to a legacy you have not designed.