For over a week I’ve been sick about the death of Prince. I am a fan and I loved his early work, but had not heard much since Sign ‘O The Times. Christie and I were extremely fortunate to get to see him live on about the 10th row in 2000 on his Hit n Run tour.
It was truly one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen and been involved in dozens of great rock shows.
And so now even as we mourn his death I am gob smacked at the notion that Prince did not have a will. Here’s a guy who demanded and commanded complete, total control over his career and his image. He was the sole composer on 99% of his songs. He was the sole musician on 99% of his records. He worked with an engineer, but he produced the recordings. He did it all. And when his record company at the time refused to release his master recordings to him, he took them on in a years-long battle where he declined to be known as Prince, only as a symbol. He eventually won that battle.
Since his death last week, we’ve also discovered his very generous nature. He gave monetarily to a lot of organizations, both locally in Minneapolis and around the globe. He knew his wealth was far more than he needed, and that he could do good through giving.
He was in control. He was in charge. His was a giving soul. He was The Man. Why in the world did he not have a plan for his estate?
Today, his siblings are “discussing” the situation with lawyers. Because there was no will, any Joe Schmoe can legally make a claim to his estate (“I am Prince’s love child!!”) and the court has to waste time – and money – investigating. As much as he maintained control during his life, he has no means of control of the direction of his assets after his death. None. Zip. Zero. All of his recordings, currently locked in the proverbial vault – what did Prince intend to do with them? Doesn’t matter, he didn’t have a will.
How much did Prince want to give to charities, and to which ones? Doesn’t matter, he didn’t have a will.
Exactly which of his family members did he want to bless financially, and with how much? Doesn’t matter, he didn’t have a will.
The worst of all, though, is because he didn’t have a proper estate plan with a trust, approximately half of his estimated $300 million estate will be taken off the top and go to the government in the form of inheritance tax. All because he didn’t have a will.
Now, you or I may not have a $300 million net worth. We may not even have a $300 thousand net worth. But if you are over the age of 18, you need a will. It’s very simple. Heck, in some states you don’t even have to have it notarized.
Our advice is this (and it’s what we’ve done): if you don’t have a lot of moving parts, a DIY will kit from USLegalForms.com will more than suffice. They provide you a state-specific will with easy to follow instructions. Fill it out, get it notarized, put it in a safe place, and you are all set. If your estate is more complicated, make an appointment with a family attorney. It doesn’t cost that much but it will make things SO much easier upon your death.
Pssst….spoiler alert ….we all die in the end. Get a will. It’s one way to say “I love you” to your family. They will thank you.