Why Prince needed a will (and so do you)

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LauraFor an artist who maintained a legendary level of control over his music in life, Prince reportedly died without a will, an astounding omission that left his entire estate, including his vault of music, in flux.

Without a will, Prince’s estate will have to go through probate, a public process that will expose everything the man fought so fiercely to protect – his assets, his lifestyle, his potential heirs and, most devastating of all, his music.

The man once battled his record label so furiously to regain the rights to his music that he gave up his legal name for a period of time. The Artist Formerly Known as Prince earned a reputation as a fierce protector of his creative property. Prince Rogers Nelson, on the other hand, left his entire catalog vulnerable.

Because he died without a will, his assets will be distributed according to Minnesota state law, and by a court designated administrator, likely someone who never had a single conversation with Prince.

Without a will, all of the songs Prince produced, including those he wrote but did not release for reasons known only to him, will be part of the probate process. Also, though he supported several charities in his lifetime, Prince will not be able to direct his assets into any of them posthumously. Charitable donations will also be decided by the court designated administrator.

Dying intestate, as Prince apparently did, exposes all the assets he worked so hard to accumulate to dramatic tax consequences and leaves the distribution of those assets, the naming of the heirs, up to a slow, expensive court system.

A simple, revocable trust with a pour over will would have allowed Prince’s estate to avoid all of this, and to exert the control he so obviously valued.

It’s a poignant lesson for all of us. Do you have a will? Have you updated it recently? Do you have a trust? Should you?

We would be glad to answer any estate planning questions you have. Call or email us today.