It is okay until it is not okay!
Examples from Prince’s life made simple
Prince, American singer, song-writer, died without a Will on April 21, 2016, four years ago and the fight over his estate is still far from over. Very few amass the fame and fortune of Prince. So, you might wonder, why we are talking about examples from Prince’s life.
It is simple. Human beings have many things in common, regardless of our status in this world – this includes our greed for more money and our inability to deal rationally with death. When two of those are combined – things can get strange, whether you are Prince or whether you are you.
We all know greed around money. We all want more. When money is to be had, relationships take a back seat. The alluring call of money becomes the single truth. And people are prepared to fight.
On the other hand, there is irrationality around death. When someone dies, the dead person is silent but instead hundred voices move into that vacuum conjecturing on what the person who passed might have, could, should have wanted.
Those two forces combined makes the perfect environment for heightened conflict accentuated by grief and fear.
Prince died four years ago, but we are still watching such drama unfold in the fight over his estate. As soon as he died without a Will in April 2016, many tried to lay claim to his estate. It took the probate court in Carver County, Minnesota until 2017 to narrow down the heirs to his sister and five half siblings.
You would think after identifying the heirs, the court would just be able to distribute his estate to them. But no – disagreements arose, between the representatives of his estate, the heirs, and myriads of consultants. Attorneys argued, bazillion papers got filed, Carver County probate court reviewed. Everyone got paid except the heirs!
Fast forward four years from Prince’s death. Alfred Jackson, his half-brother and one of the six heirs has already passed! Few hours before he died of a heart attack, he sold off a major portion of his right to the estate to an entertainment company and left his estate to a friend, thus bringing in unrelated stake holders with their own agendas and potentially more disputes and more delays and more expenses.
Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson has also sold a large portion of her right to the estate to the same entertainment company to guess what – pay her legal bills from fighting for the share of her estate! This year, many of the heirs filed a suit for more control so they can get out of financial ruin from fighting over his estate!
The moral of the story, USA Today says best: “the most obvious lesson of the Prince tragedy remains, and it is utterly prosaic: If you die without a will, you might leave behind confusion.”
And such stories are not limited to people with large amounts of wealth. People fight over property that they think they have the right to, no matter how big or small. Rationale goes out of the window and the righteous belief of what they are owed provides the impetus for the fight.
And once they enter the ring, ego keeps them fighting on. The only ones then who are guaranteed to get parts of the estate are the attorneys and the consultants. The voice of the person who died stays silent as the estate dwindles. The way to avoid this is simple. Leave behind a well thought out estate plan with a will and a trust.
These documents act as your voice when you can no longer speak. These will make sure that your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are taken care of the way you want to, when you can no longer do so.