As you may have heard, when Prince died last week, he did not leave behind a Will.
Here is why everyone should have at least a basic estate plan.
Following the death of the musical sensation, his sister filed paperwork with a Court in Carver County, Minnesota naming several of Prince’s siblings and some half siblings as possible heirs to his fortune and stating that no estate planning documents were left.
The administration of Prince’s estate will likely turn out to be an extreme example of the consequences of not having an estate plan.
Not everyone has a multi-million dollar estate with millions of dollars and large business interests to worry about, but every estate- big or small- has a need for at least some basic estate planning.
Most likely, it will take years for all of these issues to be sorted out- searching for all assets left, who the rightful heirs to the estate are, and how each piece of the estate should be distributed or otherwise dealt with.
Let this be a lesson to you- everyone should have a will. This is not something that should be restricted to the aging or elderly population. This is not something that should be reserved for those with large estates. This will allow you to have some sort of control over how your estate is handled after you die.
I’ve heard people say “Why do I care? I’ll be gone.” Well, if you don’t care about your estate’s assets, maybe you care about your surviving loved ones. You can take simple steps now to prevent leaving them with a time consuming, confusing, and sometimes expensive mess.
What about Prince? It’s too late for him to make a Will…
Since Prince did not leave a Will, all of the important decisions will be left up to the Court to decide. This Court will likely appoint someone called a “special administrator.”
As long as there was no Will, the assets in Prince’s estate will probably pass to his siblings. That is, what’s left of the assets after all the money that is spent fighting over them in Court.
If, in fact, Prince did have a Will that no one has found yet, and it surfaces later this could change who would be in charge of the assets and who receives what assets. If a Will does appear later, it may be contested.
Could the Estate be handled in another way?
There are some types of assets which don’t actually need to be dealt with in a Will. If your assets will pass to someone else by operation of law, through rights of survivorship, through contract, through a trust, or some other method a Will is not the be all and end all. These methods of transfer will overcome directions in your Will.
It is very possible that, although the media has been buzzing about Prince not having a Will, he did have some other method of estate planning in place.
If, however, Prince did die without any estate plan in place, we will most likely see “new” people start to surface claiming to members of Prince’s family. If this does happen, there could be family members that Prince never knew who stand to inherit a substantial portion of his estate. By not having an estate plan, this would open the potential for more people to claim pieces of the estate. People with whom Prince had business relationships could even attempt to join the case and assert rights to his assets.
For most people with an estate plan, a Formal (full) Administration of an estate would take between 9 and 12 months. Prince’s estate will probably take years.
Learn a lesson from Prince-
Regardless of the size of your estate, someone will have to manage it if you are not able to. Estate planning will empower you with the tools to decide who will manage what and how.
The need to plan applies to everyone. A basic estate plan can help your family avoid turmoil.