Rumor has it — and these rumors can be credible sometimes — is that Prince, when he died this month on April 21, 2016, from causes yet to be determined, died intestate. This means he died without a proper will or trust in place to dictate who should inherit his money and who should be in charge.
Celebrities who make millions of dollars are constantly reminded to draft and execute estate plans by their attorneys — but the reasons that they do not do so — are the same reasons why most Americans do not draft and execute their own estate planning documents. They feel morbid. They feel like it might hasten their death. They feel uncomfortable. They feel like they are not sure who should be in charge or who should receive or inherit from the estate. As estate planning attorneys at TLD Law, our job is not to convince clients to do the estate plan — everyone needs an estate plan! Rather, our job is to be ready to be hired when clients are ready to proceed. If we had to spend all day convincing clients to do an estate plan, we would be in a futile position. Clients become ready when they have an issue that caused them to face their mortality, someone else has died or they just understand that they need to get this in place for their loved ones.
But going back to Prince, his estate will likely wind its way through the courts in Minnesota — where he lived and died. Minnesota has jurisdiction over his estate. The laws of intestacy can vary from state to state so the court there will make a determination who should serve as his personal representative and who should inherit his estate. If his estate is challenged by other people who think they are entitled to a share — the court may agree to a settlement at the request of the court appointed personal representative either in litigation or in avoidance of litigation. At this point, since it has only been less than a week, it is not clear how his estate will be handled and what litigation will ensue.
Having an estate plan in place — a will and/or a trust — would have made clear Prince’s desires for his estate if he had strong feelings about who should have been in charge and who should inherit.
The only good thing that we can be reminded of his untimely passing is that you should not party like it’s 1999 and have no estate plan in place. Don’t let the doves cry and instead have your estate plan done. Cheesy? Maybe, but take the time to develop your desires in writing in the appropriate testamentary instrument by a lawyer to ensure that when you do die — your wishes are known and easily carried out.
If you want more information or wish to discuss your estate planning objectives, contact TLD Law today at (562) 923-0971.
If you wish to contact the author of this cheesy blog post — partner Jennifer Sawday handles estate planning and related matters, send her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org