There is nothing like the death of a wealthy celebrity who dies without a will to bring scads of would-be relatives out of the woodwork, each claiming to be a long-lost brother, sister, cousin, etc. Loren Barr’s Trust and Estate Blog presents a great picture of the chaos which has unfortunately ensued after the death of music legend Prince this past April.
Prince’s estate is valued at between one hundred million and three hundred million dollars and, as so often happens with artists of his caliber, income continues to pile up not only from sales of his music but also from tours conducted at his palatial home in Minnesota. So far the probate judge has excluded no less than 29 folks hoping to game a piece of Prince’s fortune.
Minnesota law provides that the estate is to be shared equally by Prince’s siblings (and the children of any deceased brothers and sisters) . Getting past the humor of the situation that we see when claims are made by those claiming to be his children (he had none) and a woman claiming to be married to him in secret, the less humorous side of Prince’s estate is the fact that the combined federal and state estate tax bite will be 56%.
While this means that all 330 million of us will share a little piece of Prince’s wealth, your lawblogger finds it shocking that there appears to be no attempt on his part to plan for the inevitability of his death. A will would have been a good start as would be charitable foundations, trusts and other devices which would have allowed him to focus his wealth on people, causes and goals which meant much to him while minimizing the extent of his estate tax. Of course, his untimely death also proved to be a windfall for a battalion of lawyers and accountants who will be involved in cleaning up the mess.
At the end of the day, this is a lesson for all of us to realize the importance of getting our own houses in order.