We have learned quite a bit about estate planning from the rich and famous, and unfortunately the information we most often learn is what not to do. We see celebrities and think that they must have it all together, or at least have teams of people who take care of them, but that’s not always the case. We previously wrote about the battle over the late Larry King’s estate but there are countless other celebrity estate planning blunders that we’ve heard. One of the more famous celebrity estate planning nightmares that is still ongoing is the battle over Prince’s estate.
As we have just passed the anniversary of Prince’s untimely death, we were reminded of the battle that has ensued for his estate and the lessons that we can learn on how to prepare our own estate plans. Prince died at the age of 57 with no will or other estate planning documents. Since his death, his estate has been wrapped up in litigation over who the rightful heirs to his estate should be and how everything should be divided.
The main issue facing Prince’s estate is that since he had no will, the court moved to appoint an executor, which then turned to a feud between all claiming to be an heir to Prince’s estate. Once the potential heirs settled on having a bank be named as executor to have a neutral source, then began one bank resigning, another taking over, lost assets, lost time, and also disputes with the IRS over the value of the estate and what needs to be taxed.
So what can we learn from Prince’s estate?
While many of us may never have the notoriety of a celebrity, there’s still no reason to not have an estate plan. If you are over the age of 18 you should have something prepared. As your life changes and responsibilities grow, then you add to that plan. Here are some estate planning basics that you should have, regardless of your wealth:
Will– a will is a legal document that expresses your wishes for how you want your property and assets to be distributed after your death. A will only goes into effect after your death.
Power of Attorney– You can declare someone of your choosing to be in charge of your decisions if you were to become incapacitated. There’s an option for a power of attorney for medical decisions and another power of attorney for medical decisions. If you do get into an accident in which you can’t make decisions for yourself, you will need an advocate who knows what you would want for both your own medical choices and for your financial life.
Living Will– A living will differs from a will in that this document covers your medical care wishes while you are alive whereas a will is for your property and such after your death. A living will states your decisions for your healthcare if you become unable to express them yourself. This will guide the person you’ve chosen as your medical power of attorney if they don’t already know your wishes.
Estate planning can seem overwhelming, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones. We are here to help, whether you need an entire estate plan or reviewing and adding to your current plan, contact us today and we can help.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.