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Purple Probate

Our high school senior class unofficial anthem was "Let's Go Crazy." I love it! A true get up and groove tune - I dare you to listen and hold still. Prince was a one-of-a-kind artist and I was saddened by his untimely passing last April.

I have read that Prince was suspicious of most people, including attorneys (probably with good reason), and that he never met with a lawyer to prepare a will or establish a trust. Consequently, his estate, six months after his death, is still in a Minnesota probate court and still unsettled.

When one dies intestate (without a will) the estate goes through probate. If one dies with a will but no trust, the estate also goes through probate. To avoid probate requires creation and proper use of a trust. Probate anywhere is open to the public so getting information about who claims what is easy to do.

Nearly 30 people emerged to claim part of Prince's estate by the mid-June deadline; each alleging some genetic or other relationship to Prince. Some of the claims were mildly amusing to read about, as you might imagine, such as those of the Colorado inmate "love-child" or the "CIA cover-up secret wife." The judge whittled the number down to six but ordered four of Prince's half-siblings to undergo genetic testing.

Whoever ends up judged to be a lawful heir will inherit a share of an estate that is estimated to be worth up to $300 million (an amount that evidently is sufficient to bring all sorts of people out of the woodwork)! But first, the tax-man cometh!

Since Prince did not do any estate tax planning, the Internal Revenue Service will consume about half of whatever the estate ends up being and could demand payment by January. (Side note: you may want to mark your calendar for a fire-sale on Prince memorabilia in the near future as his estate may have to liquidate a lot of stuff to pay that tax bill.) Then the remaining morsels will be divided however the court has determined in accordance with Minnesota law. Of course, we haven't even touched on the lawsuits, appeals, and ancillary claims that have been and will be filed throughout the process. It is all a sad mess that largely could have been avoided.

Our lesson- unless you want half of your $300,000,000 estate to go to the IRS, millions of dollars to go to attorneys' fees, months to years in court, and a judge instead of you to decide who your beneficiaries are, take the time to do some estate planning. Get a will drafted and a trust set up. It doesn't cost that much and will save money, time, and grief for your loved ones down the road!

Note: I found this photo in the public domain but it did not have a credit. I would love to credit & compensate the photographer if anyone can identify that person for me.

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