Last year’s untimely passing of the artist known as Prince has again brought to light a potentially devastating situation a lot of people face. You see, the reports are that Prince did not have a Last Will and Testament. The result could be a total mess for his family resulting in disputes and complex legal issues resulting in lengthy and costly litigation.
According to various media reports, Prince’s closest full sibling is a sister, Tyka Nelson. She recently filed court documents to open a probate case in Minnesota’s Carver County, which is where her brother’s Paisley Park estate is located. She stated that “I do not know of the existence of a Will and have no reason to believe that the Decedent executed testamentary documents in any form.” He also had half-siblings, some of whom he has had little or no contact for years.
Estimates put Prince’s worth up to $300 million. Even though he is now deceased, his wealth could grow exponentially. His music sales have exploded since his death. He also had his own record label and, reportedly, thousands of unreleased songs. The Prince brand is still very much alive and will be for decades to come.
Without a will, Minnesota law states that his estate would go to his sister and those half-siblings. A similar situation happened after the death of Michael Jackson. In his case, however, a trust was later discovered and the settlement became less adversarial.
If you are married, most states award one-third to one-half of your estate to your spouse, with the rest divided among your children or, if you don’t have children, to other living relatives such as your parents or siblings. If you are single, most states provide that your estate will go to your children or to other living relatives if you don’t have children. If you have absolutely no living relatives, then your estate will go to the state. This is typically not the individual’s preferred disposition.
Note that any jointly held assets, such as bank accounts or houses, will go directly to the co- owner. In addition any life insurance policies or retirement accounts will go directly to the beneficiary designated on the account. And if you have a trust, any assets in the trust will go to the beneficiary designated in the trust.
One can safely assume that Prince had no other estate plan documents either. Without a General Durable Power of Attorney and health care advance directive, his affairs would have been thrown into similar turmoil if he had become incapacitated.
The best way to ensure your affairs are handled as you want and your estate is distributed the way you want it, is to have your own comprehensive estate plan.
If you would care to read the intestate law for the State of Indiana, click here. https://iga.in.gov/legislative/laws/2015/ic
If you don’t care to read a lot of legalese, who could blame you?
Instead, take the advice of Stinson Law. Most of you know how essential it is to have an estate plan. Maybe it’s time for you to now get around to getting one done. Without it, you have no control over how your assets are used for you and how your assets are allocated at your death.
Our goal at the Stinson Law Firm is to secure your present and future and leave you with the peace of mind you deserve. Contact us today.
Jeff is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation, a distinction held by only a handful of lawyers in Indiana. For almost 20 years, he has focused on elder law, estate planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, Veterans Affairs benefits planning, special needs planning, guardianships, and estate administration.