Brandon, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 29, 2016 - The musical artist Prince died on April 21, 2016, apparently without ever having created a will, referred to as “intestate” death.
Prince had no known children, but had six surviving siblings, who are the sole heirs. Even if there is little conflict among the heirs, the process of probating his estate is expected to be long and expensive.
O. Reginald Osenton, a Florida probate attorney, cited two important reasons why individuals with significant assets should be sure to create a valid will.
“First, creating a will serves to keep the scope of probate to a minimum,” Osenton said. “Probate with a will incurs far less expense, leaving more of the decedent's assets to the heirs. It also is resolved much more quickly, allowing the heirs to receive what's theirs and move on.”
The second reason, Osenton said, is perhaps even more important.
“A complete and valid will ensures that your wishes are carried out after you are gone. If you want to leave certain assets to distant relatives or to friends, that will not happen without a will. The law is very clear on which surviving heirs take precedence in inheritance. The probate court will do its best to divide Prince's assets equally among his siblings, and perhaps that is what he would have wanted. Without a will, we cannot know.”
Dividing the artist's assets may prove very difficult. Estates of artists who own the copyright to their works can grow significantly over time. Prince was known to possess a great deal of recorded but unreleased music. Determining how to fairly and equitably divide account for the possibility of future income from published and unpublished works could involve a lot of time and expense.
“I hope that fans of Prince take a lesson from his death and visit an estate planning attorney soon,” said Osenton.
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