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The death of Prince highlights the need for good estate planning

As far as anyone knows, Prince left no will when he died on April 21, 2016. This means that no instructions regarding the distribution of his significant estate exists. Experts say it could take years to sort out the value of Prince's assets, which are estimated to exceed $100 million. Tyka Nelson, Prince's only full sibling, filed an emergency motion requesting the appointment of a special administrator to gather and protect the musician's assets.

Prince possessed many physical assets including real property and equipment, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Prince also owned the copyrights to an unknown amount of intellectual property like music, lyrics and trademarks associated with his brand and image. Further, it is believed that the musician had hundreds of unreleased musical recordings he kept in a vault at his Paisley Park residence. It will be impossible to value these recordings until it is decided how, when and if they will be released.

In addition to Tyka Nelson, the potential heirs to Prince's estate include six surviving half-siblings and one deceased half-sibling. Nelson included these siblings in her motion. If it turns out that Prince indeed left no will or trust, the state of Minnesota will determine how his assets are distributed. Prince valued his privacy, but the lack of proper estate planning means his once private matters will likely be talked about at length in the public for years.

As you can see, having a sound estate plan provides many benefits, not the least of which is maintaining privacy while protecting beneficiaries as much as possible. You do not have to be a public figure like Prince to appreciate these benefits. Contact a California estate planning attorney if you would like to learn more about proper estate planning.

Source: Star-Tribune, "Without a will, it could take years to estimate Prince's estate," Dan Browning, April 27, 2016

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