Recent reports indicate that musical mega-star Prince may have passed away without a will or other estate planning in place. If that is true – a very big IF – his inaction will likely cost his estate millions of dollars in federal and state tax bills. In addition, contentious lawsuits seem certain to erupt over who are his rightful heirs, how to value his estate, and how to distribute and manage his complex assets.
Prince fought mightily to retain control over publishing rights and sound recordings. But now, if he is indeed without a will, he will have no say over how those interests will be preserved. The laws of the state of Minnesota will make those decisions for him.
Prince also closely guarded his privacy during his life. But now, assuming he did not protect his assets through effective estate planning, the nature and extent of his assets and their distribution among his heirs will play out very much in public.
None of those outcomes are likely what he would have wanted. All of them – the tax bills, the likelihood of fighting among family and business interests, and the public scrutiny – could and should have been avoided.
Tennesseans no longer face state inheritance taxes, and the increasing federal exemption means most estates are not subject to a federal estate tax either. If you do fall into that category, however, there are simple, sensible steps you should take to preserve your family’s wealth with some basic estate planning.
But you don’t have to have an estate worth $100 million to need the benefits of simple estate planning. A Last Will and Testament helps ensure that you – and not our state legislators – determine what happens to your assets when you pass away. A skilled Tennessee wills attorney can take into account your specific family concerns, and can help you plan for the distribution of complex assets. If you are a Nashville songwriter (aren’t we all?) or performing musician, estate planning can help preserve for your loved ones your copyright interests and other intellectual property interests you maintain.
Proper planning is also about more than what happens after you pass away. Through a Power of Attorney, and Advanced Care Directive, you can also determine now how you want your affairs handled in the event you are incapacitated. Failure to plan in this way can cause as much anguish and conflict among family members as failing to leave a Last Will and Testament.
Of course, it is entirely possible that Prince did prepare a will that simply hasn’t yet surfaced. It would be surprising if among all of his business advisors, legal advisors, and agents, none of them were able to convince him of the need to take these steps to protect his life’s work and legacy. If anywhere along the way he created a valid will, and did not subsequently take steps to revoke it, that will would remain in effect to control the devise of his estate.
As we celebrate Prince’s musical and cultural legacy, he may have also left behind two other important lessons: first, prepare a will to save your loved ones from unnecessary and often costly conflicts; and second, update your will as your life and your life’s goals evolve.
Please contact us today online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your legal options.