The still-stinging death of pop music icon Prince has made the world a sadder place. The singer/songwriter, master guitarist, actor and bonafide musical genius touched millions of people with his life’s work.
Unfortunately, Prince won’t have a say in what happens to the fruit of his life’s work now that he has passed.
Because Prince did not have a will, or a living trust, or any kind of estate plan in place when he died.
That means the state of Minnesota likely will be responsible for the disposition of an estate valued at some $300 million. That figure doesn’t even include the estimated $500 million in publishing rights to Prince’s musical catalog, or future royalties from ongoing sales of his music (which skyrocketed right after his passing).
While the death of Prince was a tragedy for music lovers around the world, his death also can be a teachable moment about the importance of having a will, a living trust and a complete estate plan in place — especially if you have significant wealth, and especially if you have children.
If you want a say in what happens to your money, property, business, family heirlooms, etc., after you die, then the only way to do that is to set up a will or a living trust that specifies who gets what, how your estate is to be distributed and who will be in charge of your estate after you’ve departed.
I know this isn’t a pleasant subject to tackle, but it is one that must be dealt with before it’s too late. The last thing you want is for some government bureaucrat to decide for you where your money goes after you’re gone.
The way I see it, you owe it to yourself and to the ones you leave behind to tackle the unpleasant issue of estate planning.
And while the process might not be the most comfortable experience of your life, knowing that the fruit of your life’s labor will have the destination of your choosing is a most comforting feeling.
So, let us all learn from the lessons of a Prince — and don’t leave your legacy up to chance, or up to others.
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
— Ernest Hemingway
Since today’s lead topic was the need for estate planning, I’ve got the heavier subjects of life and death on my mind. Thinking about that gave me time to reflect, and that reflection reminded me of the above quote by one of America’s greatest novelists, Ernest Hemingway. Remember, in the end it’s all about the details of how you lived. So, make sure the details are of your own making, and not that of another.
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my audio podcast, newsletters, seminars or anything else. Ask Doug.
In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my column from last week about the drivers of recent gains in emerging markets. I also invite you to comment about my column in the space provided below my commentary.