Prince Died Without a Will, leaving a Mess!

Recent Superstar Death Brings Estate Planning to the Forefront of Discussion

The untimely death of superstar Prince has brought a surprising issue to American living rooms: estate planning. If current reports are correct that Prince died without a will, state law and the Court system will dictate who controls and inherits his sizeable estate. It is also likely that taxing entities will take a bigger bite out of his estate – costing his family millions, unnecessarily —  before anyone inherits anything.  All of this could have been avoided and there’s an important lesson here for you and your family.

Prince died on Thursday, April 21, at the age of 57, in Carver County, Minnesota. He had one half-sister, Tyka Nelson. He also had six half-siblings. Prince was predeceased by both of his parents and two of his half-siblings. He was divorced twice and had no living children.

Ms. Nelson recently filed documents with the Carver County probate court, asserting that she believed that her brother died without a will. She also asked that the court appoint a special administrator to handle Prince’s affairs until a personal administrator was appointed. A judge appointed a banking affiliate to serve in this role temporarily.

When a person passes away without a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” When this happens, state law directs the distribution of the person’s property, known as the “estate” through a process called probate. And, it’s up to the Court to decide who controls the estate.

If Prince indeed died without a will, these statutes will result in his siblings dividing his estate, including his half-siblings. This may or may not be what Prince would have wanted, had he made provisions himself.  And, his estate is likely to be overseen by a paid executor, instead of a family member or friend he would have chosen.

So, what does this mean for you?

Just like Prince, if you do not plan for your death, your family will get stuck in Court and could end up in conflict as well.  It’s an unnecessary expense to your family, causes additional heartache and grief, and is totally avoidable.

Let Prince’s death be an inspiration to you to leave your loved ones with a legacy of love, not a big mess to clean up. We can help.

Nalini S Mahadevan, Esq

P: 314.932.7111

Disclaimer: Please do not rely on this blog for legal advice.  Call me if you want to get advice and sign an engagement letter with my law firm.

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Getting Clients in a Down Economy

Remember I was on the fence about Facebook? Well I have decided to join the bandwagon. What made me change my mind? I teach law practice management at St. Louis University Law School, in St. Louis, Missouri, as an adjunct professor. A fellow lawyer at my class changed my mind for me. I guess I can be a lawyer, present a friendly, ‘get to know you’, ‘I too have the same problems like you’ facade; friend my clients and friends and still continue to maintain my dignity and private life. Who knew? I am exploring the settings on Facebook, so that I can feel good about connecting without compromising. My caveat, of course, is don’t give any legal advice. I have both a personal page and a page for my business. Still sparsely populated, but both pages will get there. So this is an invitation to friend me and become a fan.

I am slowing embracing the Facebook jargon. The story the lawyer told was that he was in a flood, his cell phone was wet and he had to contact his office to excuse his absence. Not having a working home phone or cell, he created a Facebook page and connected with colleagues. At the end of the day, his entire office and several dozen friends had passed the message along. He had dozens of calls to assist him. A heartwarming true story. My students are thrilled with the fact that the course is in touch with a world they know. After all, this generation is seeking business online rather than at a brick and mortar store. Facebook is great for C to B, not so much for B to B. See my last post.

What is troubling is the fact that clicking on ads may send your private profile details to internet ad tracking companies like Google and Adwords. WSJ found user’s ID being transmitted to data aggregators. Facebook is not alone in this, but when you see that Facebook has 500 million subscribers worldwide and 135 million in the US, a third of the US population, then the issue is magnified. So share with caution. Federal regulators, criminal enforcement, college admissions offices, employers and other similar agencies, surf the social media sites for information. Delete the beer snarfing, making out pictures on the wall; better yet, hide your wall. Display your photo and name only. There are users with their names deliberately misspelt. So much for Facebook rules on disclosing true identity. According to WSJ, Facebook transmits the unique “Facebook ID” number assigned to every user on the site. The user’s ID is a public part of any Facebook profile. Anyone can use an ID number to look up a person’s name, using a standard Web browser, even if that person has set all of his or her Facebook information to be private. For other users, the Facebook ID reveals information they have set to share with “everyone,” including age, residence, occupation and photos. Maybe the takeaway is to populate your profile sparingly. Overlapping friends circle can also bring danger from unwanted ‘friends’. De-friend unwanted friends by using the ‘block’ feature on Facebook and encourage your friends to do the same. ‘Foursquare’, an online location based software application, can pinpoint locations of friends in the vicinity. Import your Facebook friends into Foursquare and track who is close by. Could be a breach of privacy. So ‘friend’ carefully and review your friends list on Facebook periodically. It is OK to friend coworkers, bosses and classmates, just with caution. Never say anything that you will be embarrassed by later. After all, this is permanent public sharing with potentially 500 million viewers. The fear!!! The potential!!! What a wonderful way to connect with people. Friends get to know you as a person, beyond business–see someone they can trust.

See you in my next post.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

Copyright 2010.  All rights reserved.

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