Minnesota and the rest of the world is still grappling with the question of how a serious pop star like Prince could have gone without preparing a will. The failure to do so was out of keeping with his meticulous attention to the legal details that defined his professional pursuits. At the least, this serious oversight by the performer has taught others some significant points about the importance of estate planning.
One of the primary lessons is demonstrated by the emerging sibling arguments and litigation that may be filed by those now clamoring for their claimed shares of the estate. There are difficulties in determining which relatives are more closely related by blood than the others. In addition, at least one of the claimed beneficiaries has not yet adequately proved her relationship to the decedent.
Another lesson learned is that Prince's estate matters could have remained private had he prepared a living trust for handling his assets at death. Privacy could have been assured by preparing a living trust with a pour-over will. The will would apply to anything that was left in Prince's name alone at time of death; it would designate that the assets in the estate be turned over to the trust for processing. There is a stiff lesson to be learned in seeing how much extra funds must be spent to preserve the assets and determine who is entitled to them.
Legal fees will be considerably higher, additional fees will be needed to pay an appointed estate administrator and there may be will contests that could eat up substantial chunks of money to try and unravel the identity of the true heirs. Prince's wishes, whatever they may have been, will have no part in how his assets are divided among his family members, all because he failed to engage in estate planning activities. The lack of structure to direct the flow of an estate worth more than $300 million is going to be a long and expensive process to carry out. And Prince lived and died in Minnesota, making it a closer subject that hits home for residents of the state.
Source: forbes.com, "5 Things Prince's Family, And You, Should Know About Estate Planning", Winnie Sun, May 18, 2016