Estate Planning Lessons from the Passing of Prince

The passing of Prince, the famous American singer and music producer, has surprised the American public and its aftermath has gripping plot twists as the result of lack of estate planning or bad estate planning moves.

Weeks after his death, news stories emerged that Prince had no will.  As a result, there are various highly contested claims to his inheritance and his sister had to file a petition to appoint a third party Bremer Trust as a special administrator for Prince’s estate.  How could a man who built a successful music legacy, made numerous contributions to society as a generous philanthropist, and fought so hard to establish control over his musical legacy not have created a plan to protect his wealth and life legacy after he died?  Surely, how could a man so young and in good health could possibly imagine that he would die so soon?  And for a man so busy with his work, perhaps there was no time to think about personal estate planning?  But as things happened in life, Prince died failing to write down his wishes, telling his family how he wants his inheritance distributed and how his musical legacy which he held so dear during his lifetime be preserved.

So what estate planning lessons can we learn from Prince?

Protect Your Inheritance and Life Legacy.  Don’t let your fear of dealing with the inevitable mortality or the estate planning process stop you from taking control of your life legacy and reducing the potential for family conflict and controversy.

Have an Estate plan – whether based on a will, trust, or both, and Appoint a trusted person to carry out your wishes, execute and administer your estate after your death.

Here is a basic outline of things you can and should do now to protect your family:

Legal Documents

  • Will
  • Durable General Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Power of Attorney and Medical Directive
  • Trusts (optional) — Depends on your personal and family situation, either revocable (changeable) or irrevocable (not-changeable) trust may be needed to protect your assets, to support your family members in the manner you desire, to protect a child with special needs, or to carry out our charitable objectives.
  • Appointment of Guardian for your Minor Children – this is your children protection plan which you as parents know best and must implement for your own children.


  • List of all bank accounts
  • List of all user names and passwords
  • List of automatic pay accounts with name and contact information of each payee
  • List of safe-deposit boxes
  • 401 (k) accounts
  • IRA’s, Roth IRAs
  • Pension documents
  • Annuity contracts
  • Brokerage account information (name, contact phone number and e-mail address)
  • Detailed list of savings bonds (and copies of actual bonds)
  • Life insurance policies (private and through employer)
  • Long Term Care insurance policies

Other Documents

  • Housing, land and cemetery deeds
  • Mortgage accounts
  • Proof of loans made
  • Vehicle title
  • Partnership and corporate operating agreements
  • Previous three year’s tax returns
  • Marriage license
  • Divorce papers
  • Military discharge information
  • List of contact information (contacts on accounts, names, current addresses and Social Security numbers of all people named in the legal documents, as well as the contact information for the estate attorney and CPA who will be handling the estate.)

A well-prepared estate plan is the most wonderful thing you can leave your heirs.  Set up your Plan B with clear instructions for your family to follow and avoid potential messy family conflict as well as costly, time-consuming probate procedures.  Allow your loved ones the peace, confidence and ability to take care of family and business matters while dealing with a heart-broken situation.

If you’re ready to do the right thing for your family, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $500 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call 281-407-5622 today and mention this article.