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The Prince Probate

May 30, 2016 07:44PM ● By Becky Coburn
By Dan DuRee

"Life is just a party and parties weren't meant to last." Prince, 1999

Unless you have been living in a cave with bad cell phone reception or in one of those extended stay hotels without free Wi-Fi, you have undoubtedly heard about the sad and untimely death of music and entertainment luminary Prince. Unfortunately, media focus shifted within 48 hours from Prince’s incredible artistic accomplishments to the epic battle over his assets and control over his legacy.

One hundred million records sold worldwide, seven Grammys, an Academy Award, and a reputation for being fastidious about not only his art but also the business of entertainment that led to a fortune estimated at roughly three hundred million dollars, the fate of which will eventually be decided by a probate judge. In spite of all his accomplishments, Prince did not seem to leave even a simple will or engage in any sort of estate planning. The following avoidable issues were caused by his team’s failure to plan properly.

Prince’s family lacked access to funds for day-to-day expenses

Entertainer George Lopez lent Prince’s family a reported twenty thousand dollars (although it may have been more) to pay bills because they didn’t have access to funds. If Prince had a living trust, the successor trustee would have immediate access to funds to pay his ongoing and final expenses.

No named person in charge

Prince’s longtime bank Bremer Trust has been named special administrator and may become permanent executor of the estate. We do not know Prince’s wishes, but multiple parties will surely contest such a lucrative appointment.

Disposition of assets and control of the Prince legacy is unclear

Prince currently has multiple siblings, and one incarcerated man in Colorado claims to be his child, vying for his assets. By spelling out his wishes in a living trust, Prince could have decided who gets what and who controls his art without a public probate proceeding.

None of us has the artistic legacy or assets of Prince, but with basic estate planning we can avoid the issues that will face his family for years if not decades to come. If you have any questions about California probate law or how you can properly document your wishes, please don’t hesitate to call for a free consultation.