I know, estate planning is such a boring topic but it isn’t boring when your heirs are left without access to what you would like them to have. Or, even more importantly, what they might need to have if you are no longer around. And that is the case with the death of Prince.
As of now, it is not known whether Prince had a will or any other estate documents and his sister has gone to probate court requesting the appointment of a special administrator. If you don’t have any estate documents, someone will need to go to court with the same request. And it will be expensive.
You might be thinking that it isn’t a problem because if something happens to you, your wife or husband or sister or brother will automatically be the recipient of your money, house and other possessions – but, this is not true. Or you might think that you are too young and don’t need documents at this time. One is never too young. If you don’t have a will and if your beneficiaries are not updated on your retirement accounts, the court will step in and divvy up your assets according to a formula set by the state. And the tax consequences can be huge, not to mention the legal fees. This is what is happening to Prince’s sister. Even if she is the sole beneficiary of her brother’s estate, this will be a long and costly journey for her. She will miss out on a substantial portion of the proceeds she could have received. The same will happen to your heirs without proper estate documents.
What to do: if you are employed, some employers have as part of their benefit plan a Legal Plan benefit and signing up for it can save you a lot of money. These plans have estate specialists. If you don’t have access to such an opportunity, contact an attorney who specializes in estate documents. Estate specialists can save you and your heirs’ money and aggravation in the future. An attorney who is a generalist or whose specialty is not focused on estate planning will probably not be aware of all the new and important details that can protect you and your heirs. And, if your documents are over 5 years old, have them reviewed as state and federal estate laws have changed. One more thing. If you do have documents, let your executor/administrator know where they are.
Please reach out if you have any questions about this or if you would like a referral to an attorney. And, please pass this on to those you think might benefit.