Growing up, I was a fan of Prince’s music – but I couldn’t help but get a good chuckle at his decision to change his name to a symbol, and to become “the artist formerly known as Prince”, only to change it back to “Prince” again. I was saddened by his recent death as a reminder that I am getting old, and the pop stars of my youth are starting to die off.
I was also quite interested in the well publicized fact that Prince died without a will or other testamentary documents in place, which is causing quite a controversy. Prince had no spouse or kids, so the intestacy laws of his state of Minnesota will now kick in, which dictate that his siblings will inherit his $300 million fortune. Interestingly, his bother Tyka is the one who is reporting that he never had a Will, and he of course has a lot to gain if that is true, so it is tough to be sure if it is. Prince was also a devout Jehovah’s Witness, but I suppose we will never know if he would have wanted the church to receive some of his estate on his death.
When a person dies without a Will, the remaining family can sometimes feel as though their assets are “The wealth formerly under their control”. The lack of a will can completely rob the family of decision making power, and any measure of control over critical choices which may impact the family for generations to come. When this happens, the state intestacy laws govern all decisions and division of assets, which means that the family’s assets are totally at the mercy of laws written by legislators who are totally ignorant of that family’s dynamics and needs, or the actual wishes of the deceased. God forbid if minor children are involved, as the state gets to decide who takes care of them too!
Don’t be like Prince. Make sure you draft and execute your Wills and other estate documents (like Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney). Stop procrastinating and get this done, or your family may seriously regret it.
And for those of you who have been responsible and have a Will and other estate documents, you still should review it at least every 5 years. Life happens, things change, laws change. At Concentus, we work with our clients and their estate attorney’s to make sure they have everything in place. We also keep copies on file, and make sure they are reviewed every few years. We believe it is important for us to have an understanding of a client’s estate plan. It helps us ensure we are managing their investments correctly and, if something does happen, we are better equipped to help the family through the process.