Impending fight over Prince’s estate highlights Estate Planning

Prince left a fortune in assets but without an estate plan - he also left a huge problem for his heirsWhen musician Prince passed away earlier this month, he left an estate worth a reported $300 million dollars with a vault of enough musical creations to keep Prince’s estate potentially growing for decades. 

One would think that with an estate as large as his, Prince would have taken the time to create a comprehensive estate plan that detailed exactly how he wanted to dispose of his assets, but it seems that the singer had not created a will or made any other plans for his estate.

As a result, there is a significant legal battle brewing, with potential heirs coming forward on a seemingly weekly basis.

Currently, Prince’s sister has made a claim on the estate, along with five half-siblings. In addition, a man claiming to be a “secret love-child” has come forward, as has an Illinois woman claiming to be the singer’s half-sister. Furthermore, Heir Hunters International claims that Prince’s half-brother produced a grandniece who would be entitled to her grandfather’s share of his estate.

Imagine the distress on loved-ones. A simple consultation with an estate planning attorney would have saved potentially years of negotiations at enormous cost.

Prince is hardly alone in his lack of planning for the future. According to the American Bar Association, more than half of Americans do not have a will or other estate plan when they pass away. When this occurs, state law controls how an estate will be distributed, which may or may not reflect their wishes in regard to their assets. Perhaps more importantly, it often results in lengthy and acrimonious legal disputes that can pit family members against one another and can cost significant sums in legal fees.

State Intestacy Laws can be Complicated

When people pass away without a will, they are said to die “intestate,” and their state’s intestacy laws will determine how their assets will be distributed among their relatives. For example, the parties who can inherit property through California’s intestacy laws include the following:

  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings

Who gets what depends on a number of factors, including what types of heirs a person has and whether property that is part of the estate is considered to be community or separate property. In addition, certain property that is jointly owned or is designated to pass to another person may not be included in the estate for the purposes of intestacy law.

Estate Planning May or May Not Involve a Will

While wills are certainly a cornerstone of the estate planning process, there are other options that may better serve your needs. When property is passed to beneficiaries through a will, a legal process known as probate is required, which can cost your estate and family members a significant amount of time and money. An experienced estate planning attorney can help structure your assets in such a way as to avoid probate whenever possible and ensure that your assets go to your designated beneficiary as efficiently as possible. For example, if you place your assets into a trust, they will pass directly without having to go through probate. The same is true for life insurance policies or bank accounts that are designated to pass to a specific party.  A skilled attorney will thoroughly analyze your situation and help you decide how best to plan for the future.

Contact a San Diego Estate Planning and Litigation Attorney Today

It is never too early to engage in estate planning, and existing wills and trusts should be periodically reviewed by an experienced lawyer.

To schedule a consultation with San Diego Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Litigation lawyer, Byron K. Husted, call our office today at 619-826-8060 or send an email to Mr. Husted at Byron@morrislawfirmapc.com.