Prince went to great lengths to obtain and control the rights to his music, which many Delaware music fans might have discovered when they attempted to stream his music online and were denied access to it in the days following his death. Since his death, it has also come out that he was a generous man who gave large amounts of money and support to philanthropic causes. These revelations shocked many people, but what might be even more shocking is the fact that it appears he did not engage in any personal estate planning, which leaves his fortune and his music vulnerable.
The fact that he had no will hit the news media when his sister filed a probate petition. She requested to be appointed the administrator of the estate and revealed that no will had been found. The court appointed her as special administrator since it was determined that someone needed to quickly take control of Prince’s business and assets. His estate could remain with the courts for some time since, without a will, it appears that he left no clear instructions as to what he wanted to happen to it.
No inventory or other financial information appears to have been filed as of yet, so it is not known whether Prince made alternative arrangements. Estate planning is one of the most versatile areas of law, which means that the absence of a will does not necessarily mean that he failed to take other steps to ensure his legacy lives on in some other manner. Many people, including some here in Delaware, will be watching to see if that is the case.
Estate planning can be tailored to an individual’s particular circumstances. There are any number of ways that assets can be passed to family, friends and charities. This could be why some people were shocked when the news broke that Prince did not have a last will and testament.
Source: The Huffington Post, “The Death of Prince: The Stages of Grief for an Estate Planning Attorney“, Alexandra Smyser, May 3, 2016