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Dying without a Will: What We Can Learn from Prince

May 02, 2016

64% of Americans die without a will. The family of the late Prince Rogers Nelson is carrying that burden now in the midst of their grief.

The late Prince Rogers Nelson imprinted the world with his work as a producer, showman, and musical legacy, but there’s one thing Prince didn’t leave behind—a will. Planning ahead for your death is an essential part of life, though setting up a will might seem like a project you would rather not start given your health, youth, or lack of wealth. Although Prince was surely not suffering a lack of wealth, many people fail to realize that a will has a purpose beyond that of monetary importance; your will will designate who will look after your children, who will inherit your home and possessions (no matter how valuable). Dying without a will can have unintended consequences and create financial hardships or emotional strain for your loved ones.

Top four reasons people die without a will

  1. I don’t know what a will does. Not sure what exactly a will does? (We have a blog on that!) What about the difference between a will and a living trust? (Read my other blog on the topic.) It is often difficult knowing where to start, but essentially, a will designates who will inherit your belongings, as well as who will become the guardian for your children. A living trust on the other hand, allows you (during life) to name a trustee to manage your assets in the event of your death or incapacitation. Custody of your children is not included in a living trust, so a will is essential if you have children under 18, and you do not want an unknown judge deciding who they will live with.
  2. I don’t want to deal with my own mortality. One of the main reasons people neglect to set up a will and estate plan is because facing death, as we all know, is not pleasant. Even if you are young and perfectly healthy, life is never certain, so planning ahead is necessary. Many families have found that having their college-aged children prepare their own wills is a good life lesson, and one that teaches them that planning ahead is always a good decision.
  3. I will deal with that later when I have time. Check out my recent piece, “When Should I Set up a Will and Estate Plan?” Many times, if you have the constant mindset that you have enough time to put your will and estate planning off for another day, month, or year, you will never end up getting it done.
  4. I am not wealthy enough to need a will. Many people are under the assumption that wills are only necessary if you have a multi-million dollar estate, which is a dangerous thing to assume. Keep in mind that a will designates who your children’s guardians will be, and who inherits your financial assets and personal property.

If these reasons are not enough to convince you to start preparing your will and estate plan, think about the burden you will place on your loved ones due to your lack of planning. Prince’s estate is a glaring example of the financial and emotional toll that can happen.

Questions about setting up a will? Contact us.

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