As the world mourns the loss of a legend, his family now frets over what comes next. According to Prince’s sister, there is no known will for Prince’s estate. What does that mean for his family, his fans, and his legacy? Only time will tell.
First, the court will entertain all those who petition to be the Personal Representative of the estate. Anyone can apply, but the court will do its best appoint the person they see most fitting, which does not necessarily mean the person emotionally closest to the artist or his next of kin.
They will weigh the many challenges of executing an estate in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and all petitioners will be subject to rigorous background checks to determine their suitability. The person who is chosen must also recognize the significant time they will invest in this role, taking time away from their other endeavors in hopes to honor the deceased’s wishes. In the meantime, the court has appointed Bremer Trust to serve as administrator of the estate for six months, until a Personal Representative has been appointed.
The estate goes to probate, where the eventual settlement will be public. Some complicated estates carry on in probate court for decades. One as large as Prince’s will certainly take time and a team of attorneys, all of which are expensive. The expenses will come out of the estate and the inheritance of Prince’s beneficiaries, who at this point seems like his five half-siblings and his sister.
This is not, however, the greatest expense. Of the $100M+ estate, an estimated 50% will go to the government through estate taxes. Both the Federal government and Minnesota state government will benefit, and we hope they put the money to good use, but certainly we are left wondering if this was truly Prince’s desire for his heard-earned dollars.
As we believe at Swan Law, however, an estate is so much more than the distribution of funds, and often those who have significant intellectual property, values, and stories have the greatest need for comprehensive estate planning. What about artists in the future who will want to cover Prince’s music? What about the reproduction of his image on everything from t-shirts to lunchboxes? Many artists maintain tight control over artistic vision and the craft of their image while alive, but without a proper estate plan, this vision gets lost after death.
With estate planning, many of these uncertainties can be avoided. First, a trust would allow your estate to remain private and to distribute financial assets quickly and without involving the expenses of court. Tax planning can keep your taxation minimal so the money you worked hard for gets passed directly to your descendants, to charities of your choice, or however you see fit. The point is: you have control.
Estate planning can also encompass the intangibles. At Swan Law, we offer a feature called a Legacy Interview that allows you to record your thoughts and feelings on camera for your loved ones. This way, you can ease their uncertainty regarding certain decisions and remind them how much you love them. These details mean the world to your loved ones in difficult times.
We hope the best for Prince’s loved ones who are already suffering a difficult time, made more difficult by a lack of direction. An estate plan can be the road map to more certainty, for protection, and for the continuation of a legacy.
If you’d like to protect your legacy, give us a call at 970-879-1572 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and say, “I’d like to preserve my assets and protect my family.”