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The music artist Prince had many things. He had the ability to write music that was hugely popular, the talent and business sense to become a worldwide music star and multi-millionaire. Prince also had the humility to live his life in his home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota, when he could’ve lived anywhere in the world. However, one of the things Prince apparently lacked was a will.
Prince died at the age of 57 last month. His career included a longstanding dispute with his record company. He also owned his own recording studio, and was involved in many licensing agreements. One would assume Prince must have crossed paths with plenty of lawyers. How many of them talked to him about estate planning, we’ll never know.
The Los Angeles Times estimates that Prince’s estate is worth about $300 million. Unlike most estates, the value of his estate is expected to increase after his death as people buy more of his music and licensed products. There may be any number of songs Prince recorded but never released which may also add to the estate’s income stream.
If you’re shocked Prince didn’t have a will prepared, don’t be. The American Bar Association estimates that 55% percent of Americans die without a will or estate plan. We all have things to do, but for many of us putting a will together doesn’t become a priority until we’re diagnosed with a serious disease or suffer a serious accident. We generally don’t want to be reminded of our mortality, and that’s something estate planning does with some people.
Without a will Prince’s estate administrator will have to pay his debts (including state and federal estate taxes that could exceed $100 million, which may have been reduced or eliminated with proper estate planning) and distribute the rest of the estate to his next of kin. Prince wasn’t married at the time of his death, had no known children (how many alleged children may appear we can only guess), and his parents aren’t alive. At the moment it appears his estate will go to his surviving siblings which includes five siblings and one half sibling.
Although creating a will may remind one of mortality, it’s also a reminder that a will carries out your intentions about whom to benefit and how to do so. With a will your assets can continue to work as you want them to, perhaps to benefit particular friends and family members or a charity whose work is important to you. If Prince died intestate, it’s up to his siblings to decide what happens to all the wealth he left behind and the income that will continue to be earned after his death. By failing to have an estate plan he’s lost the ability to have a say in the matter.
Estate planning provides you some control over your estate. As in Prince’s case without a will your estate will be divided up according to state law, not according to your wishes. Contact our office today so we can talk about what plans you may have for your estate, and how to put those plans into action.