The Queen of Soul and Prince. What did Aretha Franklin and Prince have in common? They were both prolific and talented musicians who were taken from us far too soon. What else did they have in common? Neither of them had a will or trust when they died. As musical royalty, they moved and inspired us while giving us music and joy. However, upon their respective deaths, they gave their families pain, despair, confusion and a costly process.
Although both had amassed enormous wealth by the time of their deaths, they failed to plan for the one thing that links royalty and peasants alike—death. In so doing, more of their assets will go to taxes, lawyers and court costs that should rightly go to their heirs. Also, there will be unnecessary delays and uncertainties as their estates wind their way through the maze of court hearings.
I recently watched the memorial for Aretha Franklin. I was moved by the broad swath of international icons who attended to celebrate her life. However, I was taken aback to learn that her family would not have the opportunity to focus on her life and their mourning. Rather, they had to start the long, complicated, unpleasant and expensive task of engaging lawyers and appraisers to determine how her fortune would be disbursed. This problem was magnified for Prince who died without leaving a spouse or children.
The relatively simple process of creating an estate plan would have provided certainty and would have ensured there would be no infighting (and the costs associated with that) within the family. Furthermore, if they wanted to provide for nonfamily members or charities, they could have effectively done so with proper wills and/or trusts.
In Nevada, if you have a properly created and funded trust, you can avoid the probate process altogether. Probate is a judicial process that requires a judge, lawyers, and oftentimes appraisers to distribute assets. The process can be expensive and time-consuming.
With a little bit of planning, you can ensure your family gets the royal treatment, allowing you to truly rest in peace.