Celebrity Ignorance Creates a Nightmare After Death



I just learned that the celebrity, Prince, the music icon, (Prince Rogers Nelson), didn’t have a will! Good Lord, my mind is blown!

This is tragic news for his estate, his family, and his own personal wishes. It constantly amazes me that celebrities with an enormous amount of wealth ignore this necessary step of wealth management.

Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property whose value is greater than the sum of their enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having made a valid will or other binding declaration.

When this happens, the state the decedent (the person who passed away) lives in has the jurisdiction to enforce their intestacy laws. These are the rules that determine how their property will be distributed upon their death. This includes any bank accounts, securities, real estate, and other assets owned by the decedent at the time of their death.

There are costs involved with this process. Costs that are established by statute, meaning the law determines the fees being charged. There is no negotiating. There is no way around these fees as they are the law. Nor are these fees a tax. They are a “bill” that will be presented to the executor (if there is a will) or the administrator (if the state declares and appoints an administrator since the decedent didn’t appoint an executor).

PlanningThat bill is expected to be paid in a timely fashion. Often there aren’t enough liquid assets for a family to pay these fees and assets, such as family homes, are liquidated quickly (we call it a fire sale) for prices less than market rates to produce quick cash to fee the probate fees.

So what’s the solution? Check with your state to learn what size an estate must be in order to require going through the probate process. If the estate is smaller, the fees can be reduced or avoided (depending on state law).

In EVERY case, you need the following documents to protect your estate and your final wishes:

  1. Durable Powers of Attorney for healthcare and finance. These are two separate documents. As a result you can choose a specific person for your money matters and possibly a different person for your healthcare.
  2. Living Will or healthcare directives. This document explains to the healthcare provider what treatment you want, if any, in the case of your incapacitation and inability to express your wishes yourself. Without this document, the doctor in charge has all the control …right down to the pajamas you’re wearing.
  3. HIPPA Release Form. You must declare who want to be able to discuss your healthcare, including getting status reports, if they are not the named power of attorney for healthcare. This is incredibly important for BFFs, besties, children, and other loved ones.
  4. A Will. Do you want your heirloom ring to go to your son, daughter, niece, nephew, grand kid, or best friend? You better say so and do it in a way that legally binds your survivors.
  5. A Living Trust. This is one document you need to research as you may not need it if your estate is small enough to escape the probate process. Do your homework. Check your state laws. If you have property in two states, speak to a certified estate planning attorney to discover how to handle the disposition of assets legally.

EP_familyI can speak from personal experience how money can make good, faithful people do outlandish, and even criminal, things. It’s very sad, tragic, and destructive. It can all be avoided if you do the responsible thing and handle your estate and last wishes yourself and in compliance with the laws governing your state.

My heart goes out to Prince and his family. I pray they navigate these turbulent waters without a nightmarish outcome.

Remember, it’s your money, your rules, your way.

Money Savvy Woman, Inc. © 2016

3 replies
  1. Beverley Golden
    Beverley Golden says:

    Like you, I was actually quite shocked to hear Prince had no will, as behind his celebrity, there was a human and animal rights activist who I would imagine, would want to make sure monies went to causes he stood for. Even though he was only 57, I know how important it is (no matter how much money you have), to make sure your wishes are legally recorded. As a highly spiritual person, maybe he just wasn’t as concerned with money as we all think he should have been. Or maybe there is a will/document somewhere that has yet to be uncovered. It’s all speculation now, however, his one sister and his half-siblings, have a long road in front of them to untangle this financial mess. Thanks for sharing all the ways to stay proactive to keep our financial affairs in order!

  2. Millen
    Millen says:

    Very important topic, Renee! I agree with everything you said! It is amazing how so many affluent people, especially celebrities, don’t have basic estate planning in place… Tragic, really. As a wealth coach for women, I want to share with women how important it is to have an estate planning in place as early as possible.


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