By Marcia J. Wexberg, Esq.
Prince Rogers Nelson, the musical giant known as Prince, died suddenly last April at age 57 without leaving a will, throwing his musical legacy and his tax situation into turmoil. He was known in his lifetime for an almost obsessive control of his music, having succeeded in taking over his valuable copyrights two years ago.
That control is now upended as there apparently is no will or trust naming an executor or trustee to be in charge. The oversight of his music and his legacy is now thrown into a Minnesota court, which named a local bank as an interim caretaker of his estate. The fate of Prince’s fabled “vault”, that mysterious and potentially vast collection of unreleased recordings, may also be up in the air. Initially, it appears that his full sister and five half-siblings may be the ones to share his estate. Prince Rogers Nelson, the musical giant known as Prince, died suddenly last April at age 57 without leaving a will, throwing his musical legacy and his tax situation into turmoil. He was known in his lifetime for an almost obsessive control of his music, having succeeded in taking over his valuable copyrights two years ago.
So many people take scrupulous care of their businesses, yet forget their family, their legacy, their privacy, their tax planning and the good they can do in the world by neglecting a simple thing like writing a will. Here are some basics to consider:
|With a Will/Trust||Without a Will/Trust|
|You name who is in charge after death||The court names who in charge after death|
|You can create a trust that provides privacy for
|State law determines who inherits
|You name who inherits your assets||Everything is public (assets, values,
|You can name a knowledgeable special advisor
to handle unique assets
|In the hands of the court appointed
|You can plan to minimize estate taxes||Maximum estate taxes due|
Administering an estate without a plan can be complicated, contentious and costly, not to mention entirely on the public record. The untimely death of a musical legend reminds us to take the time to put together a meaningful estate plan with a knowledgeable professional. Update it periodically. You will be doing your family – and your legacy – a favor.
Article appears as originally published in the Ohio Jewish Chronicle, Thursday June 16, 2016.
Marcia J. Wexberg is a Cleveland, Ohio Attorney At Law with Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP. She serves as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and co-chairs the firm’s estate and succession planning group. She serves on the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, where she was the Founding Chair of their Professional Advisory Committee.