On April 21, 2016 the world received tragic news– beloved music legend, Prince, died. He was only 57. He has left behind a string of hit songs, music awards, adoring fans and a vast fortune.
The one thing he neglected to leave was a will.
As the world still mourns the death of this mega star and his postmortem album sales sky rocket, all the tributes and reminiscing will soon be overshadowed by the mess created from him dying intestate.
According to estate lawyers, the inevitable fight that will ensue over his estate will be brutal and it will take years to sort it all out.
In life, Prince was legendary. In death, he was an average man.
The vast majority of people under the age of 60 do not have a will.
Here are a few simple reasons why having a will is a good idea.
• Having a will greatly reduces the potential for controversy and confusion.
“Anybody should have a will because it reduces the potential for controversy if your wishes are clearly set out,” says Connecticut Law Firm’s estate lawyer Daren Wallace. “The process can be very straightforward, and it’s also important to note that those who are intimidated by the process, the timing or the mortality issues, you can even do something basic, just to have something in place and revisit it later. You can change your will as many times as you want.”
• Having a will makes it easier on your loved ones.
According to Carl Glad—an attorney at Law Offices of Kurt M. Ahlberg in Stratford, Connecticut, “taking control and putting your wishes in writing makes the process easier on your heirs. Without a will, your heirs may have to apply to a probate court and get an administrator to oversee your estate. An estate bond may also be required. It could be a lengthy and expensive process. By having a will, you can appoint your own executor and the probate process will likely be quicker and less costly to your heirs.”
• If you have minor children, experts say having a will is not optional.
Legal experts agree that protecting minor children is one of the most critical protections a will provides. It allows you to choose who will care for your minor children if you were to die. Not having a will forces the court to make this decision for you. They must select the family member or state appointed guardian they believe would be most suitable to care for your children.
Writing A will:
Historically, creating a will was a long, complicated and costly process. Not anymore. You can write your own will for little to no cost. For those with few assets or a simple estate, there are templates available to help in creating a will. Once the will is drafted, it must be signed by the creator (testator) and at least two witnesses. Then it should be notarized to ensure its legality.
It is recommended that those with large estates and asset holdings or who have a more complex dispersion of wealth seek legal advice to ensure they are aware and compliant with laws and tax requirements. Even in these situations, the presences of a knowledgeable estate attorney can make the process relatively quick and painless.
Experts on estate planning advise, at the very least, that you write down a basic outline of what you would want to happen to your assets and who should care for your children in the event of your death. Or, create a “holographic will,” which is simply a handwritten will signed by the testator and two witnesses.
Having a will is not about dying. It is about protecting the living.