Why everyone needs to have a will

Prince’s recent death without a will highlights the cost of not having one

Following Prince’s recent death, the world grieved and many may have felt shock at the news of his death. Shortly following his death, it was learned that Prince apparently had not given much thought to estate planning and that he died without leaving a will. The idea that Prince died without leaving a will seems both incredible and unbelievable. Prince’s sister filed a request for the court to appoint a special administrator for the estate, noting she was unaware of any will or that Prince had ever executed one. If that is true, the future of Prince’s assets, including reported unpublished music, could be uncertain.

Prince was regarded as private and protective of his art during his lifetime, however, it appears he did not leave protections following his death through a will or an estate plan which could have significant tax implications. Some estimates value his estate at $300 million, not including the unpublished music, and half of that could go the government as taxes. Using effective estate planning strategies, including trust options, Prince could have protected his music and potentially avoided the significant costs associated with failing to have a will.

Failing to develop an effective estate pan can also lead to lengthy legal disputes. Prince’s sister also named five other siblings and half siblings, in addition to herself, as potential heirs. When no will is left, state laws, and state and federal tax laws, determine how an estate will be divided. In Prince’s case, the law provides that Prince’s siblings should inherit an equal share. Without a will, state laws will divide assets in half between a surviving spouse and children; if there are only children, assets are divided equally and if there is no spouse or children, assets are divided equally between siblings.

Effective estate planning can account for the wishes of the planner related to many concerns such as business and real estate assets, second spouses and grown children. An effective estate plan, including a will, can provide for the future of children in several ways. Trust options can also work alongside a will. It is also important to ensure that financial accounts and insurance policies are up-to-date and keep in mind that estate plans should be continually updated.

Estate planning issues can sometimes be difficult to approach and discuss, but that does not mean they are not important; effective estate planning can avoid high costs, family disputes and allow the planner to express their wishes while providing peace of mind for both the planner and their family. Estate planning needs should be directed to an experienced Maryland estate planning attorney. The Maryland estate planning attorneys at Altman & Associates can address any will or estate planning need with skill and understanding. They can be reached at their Rockville office at (301) 468-3220 or online for an initial consultation.

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