Nonexistent or incomplete Wills at the times of their early deaths. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter the size of your estate, whether it’s modest or with many zeros, an updated Will is something EVERYONE needs.
It’s ironic that Prince spent the majority of his life building his legacy and fighting the music industry for control of his music, lyrics, likeness, etc. Control over his assets and musical empire was very important to Prince. However, Prince failed to take the necessary steps to insure he maintained control after his death. Prince left behind an incredible legacy and an estimated net worth of $300 million. Because he died intestate (without a Will), Prince’s estate will be distributed according to Minnesota law. Upon his death, Prince was not married and did not have any children (however, there is a recent claim from a possible illegitimate child that could have major ramifications on the distribution of his estate). Therefore, the distribution of his hundreds of millions of dollars will be settled on in a lengthy probate process among Prince’s six siblings. Since probate is a public process, the details of his estate, assets (massive business dealings, etc.), debts and beneficiaries is available in public record to any and every one.
Prince is not the only celebrity whose estate was left to be sorted by the courts. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Winehouse and Heath Ledger all passed away without leaving an updated Will, or in some cases, with no Will at all.
When Heath Ledger passed away, his Australian Will had not updated in five years. As a result, Heath’s $20 million estate was distributed according to that five year old Will, with all assets going to his parents and sister, with no mention of his child.
Amy Winehouse had no Will at all, resulting in her estate being distributed according to state law. No one will ever know who Amy would have wanted to benefit from her estate.
Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away in 2014 at the age of 46 with an incomplete Will. He had three children with Marianne O’Donnell, and while the two never married, he gave his $35 million estate to her.
It is safe to say regardless of the size of your estate, the importance of completing a Will is always important.
Please click here to watch our webinar on Prince’s legacy.