Celebrities without wills provide teachable moments for why “regular folks” need to have wills and estate plans in place.
When Prince died, he joined the ranks of multi-millionaire celebrities with a shared legacy of failing to plan for life after they pass away. This group lives on in endless articles and—in most cases—court battles that take years to conclude. Lacking a will, the courts of Minnesota will have to determine what happens to Prince’s estate.
According to KHON’s recent article, “What happens when you don’t prepare a will, and how much will it cost?”, you’d think Prince would’ve had some smart advisors to encourage him to create an estate plan. Maybe he thought he would live forever. We will never know why Prince failed to have a will prepared.
Some people are reluctant to make out a will, thinking in some strange way that if they prepare a will, something bad will happen. It’s a human response but not a rational one. The problem is that if you do not have a will, then you have no say in what happens to your property. You also create a mess for your heirs. When a person dies without a will or “intestate,” his or her property and assets are distributed by a probate judge in accordance with state law.
Depending on your state, if you are married, the estate may go to your spouse. If you have a spouse and children, it may be divided among your closest relatives. That may work for you, but others may have other individuals and charities they want to remember.
Even if you’re not wealthy, you may still own some assets you want to designate to certain people—and you need a way for those specific wishes to be carried out.
Think of your will as a gift to your heirs, who will be spared months and years of working through probate and figuring out what your final wishes would be. Use Prince as an example of how you can either plan for your heirs and make their concerns paramount or leave a tangled mess behind for others to figure out. Blunt language but good truth-based advice.
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Reference: KHON (June 9, 2016) “What happens when you don’t prepare a will, and how much will it cost?”