On April 21, 2016, we learned of the untimely death of Prince Rogers Nelson, the iconic musician, instrumentalist and artist popularly known as “Prince.” What we have since learned, to everyone’s surprise, is that Prince, who had a team of advisors, including entertainment and intellectual property lawyers, died without a Will.
Unfortunately, the consequence is that the disposition of his assets will be governed by the state’s intestate laws, which may or may not be as Prince would have intended had he had a Will. A state’s intestate law is designed to give preference to family, as most decedents tend to do. But the pecking order may not coincide at all with the true intent of the decedent. Thus, without a Will, the ability to control the disposition is forfeited to someone else. Inevitably, disputes can arise among heirs, spouses, estranged spouses, common law spouses, significant others, brothers and sisters, step brothers and sisters, children, stepchildren, adoptive children, and the list can go on and on. There can be fundamental disputes with respect to the disposition of the decedent’s body, by embalmment or cremation. Such disputes, sadly, only lead to litigation.
The death of Prince, and the fact that he, as wealthy as he was, failed to have a Will, reminds us that this is something that we cannot procrastinate about. Disputes among family are not the legacy that anyone wants to leave behind. To protect against trouble in the future, plan today for tomorrow. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Rather than putting it off, take care of your estate planning. If we can help, let us know.