Although legal professionals like us tend to harp on the importance of estate planning, some individuals fail to take notice until something bad happens to them or their loved ones. Stories about celebrities can be illustrative, too, as is the case of former pop singer Prince. Even though the artist died two years ago, his estate has yet to be distributed to heirs.
The main reason is that Prince died without a will. This has made it difficult for those administering his estate to determine how to distribute the estimated $100 to $300 million in assets. One reason for the delay is merely trying to value the estate. Prince had numerous unreleased works, including a vault that contained recorded informal studio sessions. Should these works be released? If so, when? Should they all be released at the same time? If release is withheld until a later date, how does one place a value on that work considering that markets change, thereby changing the value? These are just a few of the questions that those involved with the estate are struggling with.
With that being said, though, many of Prince’s heirs and beneficiaries are concerned about the costs associated with the estate’s administration, which is being handled by people unknown to the singer prior to his death. Some have even indicated that they are concerned that there will be little left of the estate once all costs are taken out of it. This is likely an exaggeration, but it is true that taking such a complicated estate through probate will be costly.
Prince’s case should serve as an example to Arizonans who are putting off estate planning. Those who fail to create a legally sound and sufficient plan prior to their passing may be leaving their loved ones with an expensive, time-consuming and emotionally trying process. Therefore, those who want to ensure that their estates and their heirs are protected as fully as possible should sit down with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss what legal vehicles can be used to further their interests.