PRINCE: Lessons in Estate Planning

The singer-songwriter commonly known as “Prince” died in 2016 without an estate plan.  He had no Will and no Trust. Calamity ensued.

At least 40 people claimed to be his heir and demanded a portion of his estate. After unraveling this mess, the court eventually ruled that Prince’s six siblings were his true next of kin.

To complicate matters even further, one of Prince’s siblings, Alfred Jackson, died while Prince’s estate was still pending in court. Before he died, Mr. Jackson signed over his interest in Prince’s estate to someone else (outside the family).

Also, because Prince had no estate plan, his estate was subject to estate taxes (affectionately known as “Death Taxes”). Between the federal estate tax rate of 40% and an additional 16% owed to the state of Minnesota, the tax man claimed a majority of Prince’s property.

So, what could Prince have done differently?

First, by establishing an estate plan, he could have clearly identified his heirs. This would help avoid confusion or uncertainty about who was entitled to receive his estate.

Second, if Prince had an estate plan, he could have specifically identified where his assets would go. He could even include a provision that disinherited anyone who died before him or who only outlived him by a short period of time. Such a provision could have avoided the complications caused by Mr. Jackson’s death. It also could have ensured that Prince’s assets stayed in the family.

Third, an estate plan could have helped Prince’s family save time, money, and heartache. The probate system is time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. Even without conflict between family members, it can still take over a year to complete probate.  During that time, your family will incur significant court costs, attorneys fees, and other charges. Also, there is no privacy in court.  Everything is open to the public, no matter how embarrassing. An estate plan could have avoided probate altogether through the use of trusts and other tools.

Fourth, if Prince had an estate plan, he could have reduced estate taxes, ensuring that more of his money would go to his family instead of the tax man.

Everyone should have an estate plan. Do it for your family.

Call 630.560.1114 to speak with one of our experienced probate and estate planning attorneys, or send an email to attorney David M. Gower at Gower@DGLLC.net.

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