A Princely Estate without a Plan

I often write about bad celebrity estate planning as examples about what can go wrong when important decisions are overlooked or only casually addressed.  I have several posters in my office of celebrity estate planning mistakes: Elvis Presley’s unnecessary taxes; Marilyn Monroe’s accidental “gift” of the rights to her likeness to a woman she never met; John Denver’s simple failure to designate a beneficiary on his pension that cost his family millions of dollars; and Thomas Kincaid’s handwritten will attempting to leave his fortune to his mistress instead of his wife.  

Sadly, the latest example of poor celebrity estate planning comes from music legend Prince.  Several reports have indicated that Prince did not have a will.  Family members have filed a petition to probate his estate which will be administered and distributed pursuant to the “intestate” laws of Prince’s home state, Minnesota, which may or may not be in accordance with Prince’s wishes and will nevertheless create unnecessary expense and delay.

Prince’s associates have stated that many advisors strongly encouraged Prince to draft an estate plan but he always resisted.  He had trust issues due to regrets over deals he made when he was younger and did not trust professionals when it came to financial decisions.  He was known for replacing his attorneys on an almost annual basis.  According to at least one report, instead of listening to attorneys, financial advisors, and accountants, he placed his trust in “20-something models” who evidently did not recognize the importance estate planning.

Ironically, if Prince really did have trust issues, then creating a comprehensive estate plan would have allowed him to take control of his personal and financial wishes in the event of incapacity and upon death.  As an English major, I appreciate the efficacy of the written word.  I marvel at the fact that our country’s laws honor and enforce a person’s wishes when they are reduced to writing in a manner that is understandable and recognizable.  Instead of taking advantage of our country’s legal system to maintain control, Prince left the administration and distribution of his estate to chance.  

It is yet unknown whether Prince’s lack of a formal estate plan will create any unintended consequences.  However, leaving these important decisions to the state legislature, attorneys, judges, and family members is a risk that is not worth taking, especially when it involves that which is most sacred: everything a person has and everyone a person loves.  

KRASA LAW, Inc. is located at 704-D Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove, California and Kyle may be reached at 831-920-0205831-920-0205.

Disclaimer: This article is for general information only.  Reading this article does not establish an attorney/client relationship.  Before acting on any of the information presented in this article, you should consult a competent attorney who is licensed to practice law in your community.