Prince’s Legacy And The Importance Of An Estate Plan


The musician Prince who was formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince tragically passed away from a fentanyl overdose on April 21, 2016. To compound the difficulties for his family, Prince left no will or trust for his estate. His sister filed documents to probate his estate without a will.

As a musician Prince was very controlling of his legacy, going so far as to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol to fight Warner Bros.’ control over his work. However, as a private person he left no will or trust behind. His estate will now go to court without the benefit of a formal estate plan and with unpredictable results. His sister and many half-siblings will stand to inherit his $300 million estate, but without any of his experience and wishes guiding them.

There are many problems that could have been avoided with a will and trust. His music and likeness will be controlled by his heirs to do whatever they please with instead of honoring his artistic wishes in a will or trust. His heirs will also only inherit after the estate pays federal estate taxes of 40% (or up to $118 million). With advance planning, this tax burden could have been greatly reduced. Also, without a nocontest clause in a will or trust his heirs could contest the division, costing the estate additional millions.  As there is no trust, the transfer of his estate will be very public with public court hearings and the media scrutinizing every step.

Even if you do not own a multimillion dollar estate, you can still benefit from an estate plan. The first step is to have a will. This will allow you to name guardians in case you and your spouse pass away. In addition, most of my clients also have a trust in order to avoid probate (as the probate process in California is more costly than in other states). Both of those will also allow you to discourage heirs from contesting inheritance with a nocontest clause. A financial power of attorney will allow your agent to pay your bills while you are unable to pay in a medical or other emergency. An advance health care directive will allow you to give medical instructions in case you are unable to do so. Finally, memorial instructions will allow you to be laid to rest according to your wishes. A failure to plan is planning to fail. Contact me for a free consultation on your estate plan.

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David Seto - Bankruptcy and Disability Lawyer


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