When We Last Looked in on Prince

As readers of this blog will remember, I posted a short piece about the news that Prince died without a will. To quote from that very brief article:

Something tells me this will neither go smoothly nor end well.

Well, look who’s a genius: Lawyers battle for control of late pop star Prince’s estate.

Veteran entertainment attorney L. Londell McMillan and CNN political commentator Van Jones were close advisers to Prince at different times in his life. Following the reclusive artist’s drug-overdose death in April, the two have ignited a family feud among his six known heirs—a sister and five half-siblings—over issues including the singer’s legacy, a memorial concert and the lawyers’ own conflicts of interest.

. . .

The development comes nearly a year after Prince’s death and offers a window into McMillan’s vision for how best to manage the estate—a view that differs in some respects from that of Jones. (emphasis supplied)

Actually, it doesn’t take much of a genius to see problems in the future when money is at issue–lots of it, in this case. I learned that years ago when I worked as a bank teller for a short time in a management training program I was in. I made a small mistake–25 cents if I recall correctly–when I entered the current balance in the customer’s passbook savings book. You would have thought that I’d just robbed Fort Knox.

Lesson? Be a real prince and have an attorney draft you a will–at least a will. And if you don’t want people peering into your estate through a “window,” have your attorney draft a revocable living trust as well. Unlike with a will (or an estate like Prince’s with no will), what goes on inside a trust is private.

Where’s There’s a Will, There’s a Will.

At the link is an interesting piece at WealthManagement.com that compares the reasons people gave in 1927 for not making a will with the reasons people give now. It’s worth a read if for no other reason than the photographs from those bygone days are great.

That said, here are the reasons people gave in 1927:

  1. A superstitious fear that making a will inevitably ushers in death faster.
  2. Mental laziness—putting off the process of working out the details of distribution and apportionment with a fair regard to what’s equitable and just.
  3. A sense of inadequacy to plan for the future.
  4. The expectation that a little later, the mind will be “better made up.”
  5. The dread of expense in paying for competent legal advice.
  6. Sheer hesitation and procrastination.

And here’s what people say today:

  1. I am too young.
  2. I don’t want to think about dying.
  3. The belief that assets will automatically pass to the proper individuals.
  4. Drafting a will is expensive.
  5. The belief that only wealthy people need wills.
  6. Not ready to make important decisions.
  7. Avoid dealing with family issues.
  8. Reluctant to discuss personal details with an attorney.
  9. Unaware of the consequences of not having a will.

There is no real good reason to not make a will–a very basic estate planning document that anyone who owns anything or who has minor children should have. And the two reasons I’ve bolded above have no merit. You can buy a do-it-yourself will online for as low as $30.00. A good attorney can draft a simple will for as little as $250.00. (Other estate planning documents–trusts, powers of attorney, and the like–are an additional cost.)

So go get that will. Tell the world who gets what when you die and who you want to be the guardian of your minor children. Just do it.

Or let your state’s law of intestacy do it all for you.

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