The untimely death of superstar Prince has brought an important issue to American living rooms: estate planning. If current reports are correct that Prince died without a will, state law and the Court system will dictate who controls and inherits his 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, however, and that’s an important lesson for you and your family.
Prince died on Thursday, April 21, at the age of 57, in Carver County, Minnesota. He is survived by a sister, Tyka Nelson, and six half-siblings. Prince was predeceased by both of his parents and two of his half-siblings. He was divorced twice and had no living children.
Ms. Nelson recently filed documents with the Carver County probate court, asserting that she believed that her brother died without a will. She also asked the court to appoint a special administrator to handle Prince’s affairs until a personal administrator could be appointed. In response, a judge appointed a banking affiliate to serve as a temporary administrator.
When someone 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 or a trust, Minnesota statutes will result in his siblings dividing his estate, including his half-siblings. This may or may not be what Prince would have wanted, had he made provisions himself. But of course we will never know what he would have wanted. And, his estate is likely to be overseen by a paid executor, instead of a family member or friend he could have chosen.
So, what does this mean for you?
Just like Prince, if you do not get your estate planning handled, your family will get stuck in Court and could very well end up in conflict as well. It’s an unnecessary expense to your family, causes additional heartache and grief, and drags out for a long time. The good news is that it’s 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.