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What we can learn from Prince's lack of an estate plan

Most Kent area residents know about the recent death of music superstar Prince. Although Prince was only 57-years-old when he died, it does not appear that he had an estate plan or a will to indicate how his property should be distributed.

Lots of people may find it surprising that Prince did not have an estate plan. Many assume that those who have a lot of assets have taken the time to work out what would happen to them upon their death. But celebrities are a lot like us and also don't want to think about an untimely death. Many people don't believe that an estate plan is necessary or they put off creating one until it is too late.

In Prince's case, if it is true that there isn't a will, 40 percent of his estate will go to taxes and another 16 percent will go to Minnesota taxes. He did not have a spouse or children, so the remainder of his estate will be divided between his siblings with whom he may not have had a close relationship. More than likely this will result in a family dispute, which is probably not what Prince would have wanted.

This same exact situation plays out in courtrooms across the United States every day. In order for families to avoid this situation there are a number of estate planning options available. First, a will can be created. This is a document that lists how a person's assets will be distributed upon death. A trust can also be created. The property that is placed in the trust automatically passes to beneficiaries if it is a revocable trust and minimizes exposure to probate.

In addition to a will and trust, health care directives and a power of attorney can also be a good addition to an estate plan. Many times family members are burdened with making important health care decisions without knowing what the person would want. This can be emotional and traumatizing, which is why a health care directive is so important. A designated power of attorney is also an important person. They can take over a person's affairs and finances when they are incapacitated. An estate plan is a cost effective way to ensure a family's legacy is protected.

Source:, "Prince's passing puts estate planning into focus", Ralph Grauso, May 7, 2016

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To speak with an attorney at Gellner Law Group about estate planning, probate, trusts, wills or tax controversy, contact our law office in Kent, Washington, today. You can call 425-336-2908 or send us an email. We provide representation across the entire Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

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