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What Can Prince Teach Us About Estate Planning?

The death of music legend Prince on April 21 remains mysterious and baffling in many ways, among these the fact that he left no will. This has caused much confusion over who is responsible for overseeing Prince's estate. It also created uncertainty over his heirs, as several people have stepped forward to make inheritance claims.

These recent events demonstrate how crucial it is for all individuals to plan their estate and write a will as soon as possible. Many people avoid this topic because they may be uncomfortable with the thought of their own death. Others may believe that estate planning is unnecessary for them. The truth is, no matter how much or how little someone leaves behind, he or she can prevent conflict and stress among loved ones by preparing ahead of time.

According to Danielle and Andrew Mayoras in "Forbes," Prince made several significant but unfortunately common mistakes in estate planning. Not only did he fail to create a will, but he also did not set up a trust. A living trust establishes which persons are entitled to the deceased's assets, while avoiding probate court that would otherwise make this information public and more costly to resolve.

Since Prince did not set up a will or a trust, obviously he could not update them. Even if a will or trust has been established, it should not be something that can just be ignored until it is needed. If there is a change of marital status or the number of children, or if new assets are acquired, the will or trust should be modified to account for those changes. Without such updates, it can lead to confusion and even conflict among the executor, the heirs, and anyone who believes they were left out by mistake.

Another common error in estate planning is the belief that it only takes effect upon a person's death. In fact, the right plan accounts for the end-of-life period, as well. Estate planning should include power-of-attorney documents, signed and filed while the person is still healthy and mentally competent. This gives specified individuals the authority to make medical and financial decisions on a person's behalf if he or she becomes incapacitated. This authority is not automatically granted to any particular person, such as a child or spouse, and so the legal documentation is required.

When it comes to estate planning, many mistakes are possible, but also avoidable. It is not too late to take the first steps--contact a qualified lawyer in California today.


USA Today: "Five nagging questions about Prince's death"

NBC News: "Attorney: There May Be 2 More Potential Heirs to Prince Estate"

Forbes: "Prince Made One Of The 4 Big Estate-Planning Mistakes"

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