As we enter the time of year when the entertainment industry recognizes and celebrates the best in film, television, and music, it is a time of glamour and excitement as celebrities flock to the red carpet for their biggest award shows of the year. As many may not realize, there are many celebrities who have passed away without having an estate plan in place. One example is Prince, the iconic musician who died in 2016 at the age of 57. At the time of his death, Prince did not have a will or any other estate planning documents in place. As a result, the distribution of his $200 million estate was left in the hands of the courts. The probate process was long and complicated, and it took more than two years for his assets to be distributed according to Minnesota state law. The process was further complicated by the fact that Prince had no surviving spouse or children, and there were multiple claims to his estate from various family members and business associates. The lack of an estate plan caused significant stress and confusion for Prince’s loved ones, and it also resulted in significant legal fees and other costs associated with the probate process. It is likely that an estate plan would have helped to minimize these costs and ensure that Prince’s assets were distributed according to his wishes. The case of Prince highlights the importance of having an estate plan in place, regardless of how much you are worth or how old you are.
Another celebrity who did not have an estate plan in place was Aretha Franklin, the legendary singer and songwriter who passed away in 2018 at the age of 76. Like Prince, Franklin did not have a will or any other estate planning documents in place at the time of her death. The lack of an estate plan caused significant problems for Franklin’s loved ones and resulted in a long and complicated probate process. There were multiple claims to her $80 million estate from various family members and business associates, and the probate court had to determine who was entitled to what. The process was further complicated by the fact that Franklin had four sons, and there were disputes over the guardianship of her minor grandchildren.