The untimely death of Prince has brought a surprising issue to American living rooms: estate planning. For so many, it is shocking that Prince, who fought so hard to secure complete artistic freedom and control of his music, neglected to take the legal steps to put an estate plan in place.
If current reports are correct that Prince died without a will, state law and the Court system will dictate who controls and inherits his very sizeable estate. It is also likely that taxing entities will take a bigger bite out of his estate – costing his family millions, unnecessarily — before anyone inherits anything. All of this could have been avoided and there’s an important lesson here for you and your family.
Prince died on Thursday, April 21, at the age of 57, in Carver County, Minnesota. He was survived by his sister, Tyka Nelson, and half-siblings. Prince was predeceased by both of his parents and two of his half-siblings. He was divorced twice and has no living children.
Tyka recently filed documents with the Carver County probate court, asserting that she believed that her brother died without a will. She also asked that the court appoint a special administrator to handle Prince’s affairs until a personal administrator was appointed. A judge appointed a banking affiliate to serve in this role temporarily.
When a person passes away without a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” When this happens, state law directs the distribution of the person’s property, known as the “estate” through a process called probate. And, it’s up to the Court to decide who controls the estate.
If Prince indeed died without a will, the Minnesota statutes will dictate how his estate will be divided, and whether it will include his half-siblings. This may or may not be what Prince would have wanted had he made provisions himself. His estate is likely to be overseen by a paid executor, and someone he never knew, instead of a family member or friend he would have chosen.
What does this mean for you?
Just like Prince, if you do not plan for your death, your family will get stuck in Court and could end up in conflict as well. It’s an unnecessary expense to your family, it’s public, it causes additional heartache and grief, and is totally avoidable.
Let Prince’s death be an inspiration to you to leave your loved ones with a legacy of love, not a big mess to clean up. We can help.
This article is a service of Jill Gregory, Personal Family Lawyer®. If you’re ready to keep your family out of Court and conflict and leave a legacy of love, schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session™ today. We can help you make plans for how you want to provide for your loved ones when you can’t be there. Normally, a Family Wealth Planning Session™ is $750, but when you mention this article and are one of the first three families to book an appointment this month, we’ll waive that fee.