Prince’s Estate Planning Issues

The legendary rivalry between superstars Prince and Michael Jackson apparently extends beyond the grave in terms of whose estate is more difficult to navigate.  While Michael Jackson had a valid will when he died, controversy surrounded the appointment of an executor, and there remains an ongoing battle between the Jackson family and government agencies regarding the actual value of the estate.  Meanwhile, Prince, notoriously shrewd in business and control of his art and image, didn’t even leave a will.  Having died unmarried with no children (despite the numerous claims of a variety of pretenders to his throne), his statutory heirs comprise of siblings and half-siblings, and up to half of his estate will be paid to state and federal tax agencies.  Of course, the federal government and state of Minnesota are claiming the Purple One’s holdings are worth much more than the heirs claim, meaning his tax bill will be greater as well.  Moreover, the famous vault of unreleased material might double the value of his estate.  Had Prince done some basic estate planning, he could have selected specific beneficiaries and avoid probate altogether.   Continue reading

What is Estate Planning?

Planning for distribution of an estate following death is commonly considered a legal process that is only necessary for wealthy individuals, but the truth is that everyone has a need for some form of estate planning. Every young person with children needs an established will and directive regarding disbursement of personal property and dependent children guardianship in the event of an untimely tragedy. Even possessions as simple as furniture or vehicles are considerations when evaluating what would happen in the event of death or incapacity. Incapacity is another issue that many do not consider either, which can be especially important for young single parents. Everyone needs some form of an estate plan, regardless of the total value of their personal holdings, because passing away intestate can produce results that no one may want. The answer is developing a comprehensive legal directive, usually done most effectively with the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney such as Lowthorp Richards.

What is in an Estate Plan?

All through estate directives will include the naming of a power of attorney in the event the will maker becomes incapacitated. Sometimes unfortunate events lead to the primary party being incapable of conducting their own personal business and someone must be appointed the durable power of attorney. While most states transfer this power automatically to the spouse, it still takes a directive for some forms or representation. An administrator to the estate should also be named beforehand, as well as who the primary will maker wants to serve as guardian of any minor children. Beyond personal situational wishes, estate planning will also include a structure for distribution of assets per the wishes of the decedent.

Avoiding Probate

Many estate plans will also include a financial structure that protects as much personal property as possible from creditors and government tax agencies, often achieved through established irrevocable trusts. Everyone will have their estate scheduled for Probate following death and establishing trusts or making a complete transfer of specific property can exclude the assets from the probate process that normally distributes property solely according to state law, which often results in compliance with the wishes of no one except estate creditors. The only property that is recognized by the state as being owned by the decedent is available for attachment.

Anyone in the Oxnard, California area with estate planning needs should contact the Lowthorp Richards Law Firm for a full evaluation.