The death of legendary musician Prince was shocking and unexpected.  At just 57 years-old, it was anticipated that he would have many more years ahead of him. The world was not prepared for death of the Grammy-award winner. Unfortunately, neither was Prince himself.

The Wall Street Journal  (WSJ) reported that Prince died without a will.  Without a will, there is no way to completely ensure that surviving family members will receive intended assets.

When a person dies without a will or a named executor, any person or entity who may have interest in the decedent’s estate can apply to be an administrator, which is similar to an executor, reported Forbes. The probate court or Register of Wills selects the administrator, which is usually the next of kin.

The administrator is responsible for identifying potential heirs.  Some states may have an order of preference in which the assets pass. In Prince’s home state of Minnesota, the order of preference to claim estate assets in the absence of a spouse is:

  1. Children, grandchildren, or down to the line to any direct descendants.
  2. Parents
  3. Siblings or half siblings

Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson asked to be appointed a special administrator to manage her brother’s estate.   Prince also has two surviving half-sisters and three surviving half-brothers, according to Forbes.

Prince’s situation is not uncommon.  The Today Show reported that 55% of Americans don’t have a will.  Simple Money author Tim Maurer told the Today Show that is important to have a will if to ensure that assets and debt are handled as desired.  It is especially important for parents to have a will to ensure that their children receive assets as intended to appoint a guardian to care for the children in the event that both parents die before the children reach adulthood. It is also crucial to appoint a trustee to manage monetary assets left to minors.

There are many services available to Americans who want to write a will. Maurer recommends an estate planning attorney because they offer a variety of services as opposed to simply composing a legal document. An attorney may also be able to recommend professional services such as a real estate appraiser.

An estate lawyer will work to ensure assets are protected and passed along to the proper beneficiary and that liabilities are handled accordingly.

Posted by Legal Lookout Editor