Monday, May 2, 2016

The Estate of Not Just Any Prince: Lessons for the Commoner

On April 21, 2016, the music legend responsible for teaching the world how to party like it was “1999” and the sound of “When Doves Cry,” passed away. We all say that “Nothing Compares 2 U” even if it is a “Manic Monday” because of him. This man changed music and for many, he made up part of the soundtrack of our lives. In amassing a huge fortune and all the worldly possessions that anyone could dream of, including a few that sound beyond belief, he seemed to have it all. All media accounts are that of a man who was very controlling and directed every minute of his never-ending performance. During his life he carried out acts of loving kindness and truly seemed intent on repairing the world the best he could, but in death he will leave strife and acrimony.
With all this “good” in mind I now review the death and inexcusable act that will be his short term legacy for his family: Prince left no Estate Plan for the courts or his family to follow. His family will now battle in court for years to come and a judge and lawyers that never knew him will decide what happens to a huge library of unreleased songs, wealth and possessions.
You need not be a pop icon to have a will and, in fact, every mom and pop should have one. When it comes down to it, if you are an adult it is part of your responsibility to assist the courts and your family in creating an estate plan.
Your estate plan, at a minimum, should include:
-       Will
o     This document says what happens to your money, property, belongings and children (if you have any)
o     This helps once you have passed
-       Power of Attorney, Health Care
o     This provides guidance on your healthcare wishes and who should speak on your behalf if you cannot speak for yourself.
-       Power of Attorney, General
o     If you could not act who could pay your bills? Run your business? Sell your stocks? Use your money to help the ones you love?
-       Burial instructions
This is not a fun topic to discuss, but I have helped many people create these documents. Allowing your loved ones to grieve when the time comes rather than fight each other in court while cursing you is important. Court can mostly be avoided if one has the proper documents to steer clear of probate. If important to you, public disclosure of your assets can also be avoided.

An estate plan can cost just a few hundred dollars and save your family thousands in litigation expenses.