What Happens When You Do Not Have An Estate Plan

What do these people have in common?


  • Howard Hughes
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Sonny Bono
  • Prince

Give up?


None of these people had an Estate Plan (Will or Trust) at the time of their death, which in some cases ignited years of court battles.  Of course, none of us expect to die until well into old age and, with that, we have the expectation that we’ve all got plenty of time to get everything in order. Or, in Prince’s case, he had it in his mind he wasn’t going to die at all.


When Prince did die on April 21, 2016, at his home in Minnesota, the superstar was worth upwards of over $200 million. After many would-be-heirs came out of the woodwork to try to claim some of his fortune, the Courts determined that only 6 people (a sister and 5 half-siblings) had any claim. Unfortunately, before his death, Prince’s relationship with each of these people was strained.


As of spring 2019, the massive estate has not been settled, and the 3-year battle between lawyers, heirs, consultants hired to determine worth, DNA tests, probate courts, and the mounds of paperwork have racked up over $55 million in fees. If that wasn’t enough, the Estate owes 40% of the total value of his estate to the federal government and 16% to the state of Minnesota for estate taxes.


All of these issues could have been eliminated or minimized with a proper Estate Plan.


Prince was a visionary, an amazing musician, and his music and lyrics will live on with his fans, but there are lessons we can ALL learn from this unfortunate situation. If you don’t make a plan, a plan will be made for you. For Prince, all his money will go to the government, lawyers, and estranged family members.


While most of us will never be in the same tax bracket as Prince, everyone can still plan ahead to ensure that their estate (no matter how big or small) doesn’t end in a battle.


The process is nowhere near as daunting as you may think.  It all starts with a conversation….


See us at Ross Estate Planning, LLC, with offices in Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay.





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