Even weeks later, the world is still talking about the unexpected death of Prince at the age of 57. While examiners and investigators are still trying to determine what exactly caused the musician's death, another drama continues to play out in a Minnesota court, as Prince's relatives seek to stake a claim in his estate, which some sources have suggested may be worth as much as $300 million. Relatives have hired competing estate planning attorneys, and the media has descended upon the probate proceeding as a state court judge goes about the potentially long and complicated process of determining who should receive what from the singer's estate.
You may be asking, why is this all taking place in court? The simple answer is that it appears as though Prince – a man who spent much of his career fighting for creative and financial control over his music and property, and who was quite successful in doing so, even to the point of dutifully removing his music from all free, unauthorized sites – overlooked one basic aspect of financial planning: creating a will.
The Consequences of Not Creating a Will on Full Display
Why Prince didn't create a will is unclear. It could be that, like a lot of people in their middle-aged years, he didn't want to think about his passing, or maybe he just thought it was far too distant in the future and that he'd have plenty of time to think about it later.
But the results of not creating a will are on full display as the drama builds in the Minnesota courtroom overseeing the distribution of all of those millions. When a person dies without a will, then the “intestacy” laws of the state (usually the state where he or she died) will determine who gets what, even when that may contradict the stated wishes of the deceased, if those wishes were not included in a legally valid will. Usually, this means one's family members takes the property.
Prince had two ex-wives, who do not take under the rules of intestacy, and did not have children with either of them. His parents both predeceased him. Prince's primary relatives appear to be his sister, Tyka, who petitioned the court to become the administrator of his estate, and five surviving half-sibling and one deceased half-sibling (in many states, if a relative predeceases the testator who would take under the rules of intestacy, then the descendants of that relative – in this case Prince's half-nieces – would take the half-sibling's share).
This is all pretty complicated so far, and that's without taking into account the fact that all of these family members may at some point be in a position to decide how Prince's music should be used and sold in the future, which is something Prince kept a very tight lid on in life, suggesting he might have wanted to delegate that task to someone specifically.
Prince's Estate Will Be Tied Up for the Foreseeable Future
But what makes things even more complicated is that, as one might expect, new supposed relatives of Prince are showing up, staking their own claim to his fortune. At least one person claiming to be Prince's son and another claiming to be his sister have come forward, and a judge has already set in motion plans for DNA testing specific to Prince's estate.
Meanwhile, a financial services firm has been appointed by the court to go through the long and expensive process of tabulating and valuing Prince's estate, not an simple process when it comes to assessing intangible values of things like Prince's likeness and music.
Creating a Will is Easier Than You Might Think
All of this could have been avoided through creating a will with an estate planning attorney. By creating a will, you can ensure that your intended beneficiaries receive your property without having to hire lawyers or wait through court proceedings or fight with one another. Creating a will is an important task for everyone, not just the rich and famous. And it can be completed relatively quickly and at an affordable price.
If you have not yet created a will, or would like to update your will or any of your estate planning, contact the attorneys at Access Lawyers Group today at 866.568.3641