It has now been more than a year since the late (and inarguably great) artist Prince passed away suddenly, leaving a vast estate to his heirs with no proper estate planning in place. Unfortunately, the issues of his estate continue to unfold, delivering a potent warning to those who have yet to establish a proper estate plan.
Prince's estate is relatively unique in that he famously owned all the master recordings to his music, but when it comes to music rights, it is possible for multiple parties to hold separate rights to a song or recording (it is worth noting that the rights to a song are not the same as the rights to a recording).
Until recently, it looked as though the matter was finally settled and Prince's heir had finally found a deal that suits them. Universal Music Group reportedly came to the table with $31 million, and all parties were set to sign on the dotted line, but a competing record label, Warner Brothers, claimed that they still retained some rights over the publishing of Prince's first 18 albums.
If the three parties cannot find an acceptable middle ground, then it may be back to the drawing board for the Prince Estate. Certainly, this is not how he would have wanted his loved ones to spend the years after his passing.
If you have any assets that you wish to pass on to the ones you love, don't wait to set up a proper estate plan. Even if your property is not as complicated as the licensing and ownership of musical works, you should still take the time to protect yourself and the ones you love from lengthy disputes over trivial matters. A proper estate plan not only makes your wishes clear, it preserves your legacy for years to come.
Source: Forbes, "Prince's Estate: The Battle Continues," Gary Borofsky, Aug. 23, 2017