Depending on the situation, planning for the future can seem easy, but it is challenging to actually get started and complete. To many Illinois and Indiana residents, estate planning is something reserved for the wealthy. Although those who have significant assets do tend to engage in the estate planning process more often and more thoroughly, creating a competent plan is important for everyone. By looking at instances involving the well-known and wealthy, everyday people can obtain a clearer sense of the importance of having adequate legal protections for their estate and their heirs.
One recent example involves pop icon Prince. The singer died approximately two years ago with no will, meaning that his estate must transgress the probate process before assets can be distributed to heirs. However, to date, Prince's heirs have yet to receive any assets from the estate. Why? One major reason is because the estate has not been fully valued yet. The IRS and the estate's executor are working with a myriad of professionals to try to put a dollar amount on the singer's music, videos and other assets that may be licensed or sold. Some estimates have valued the estate at over $200 million.
There are many other issues contributing to the slowness of the process. One factor is that the six heirs to the estate are frequently butting heads about what should be done with the estate's assets, including how Prince's music should be handled and stored. Another factor is pending lawsuits, including one against a streaming service that is alleged to have infringed on copyrights of Prince's songs.
Although most people don't have to worry about protecting millions of dollars in assets or copyrights to material that could be invaluable, they can still utilize the same legal documents wealthy individuals use to protect what they do have. Those who fail to do so may wind up in a position similar to Prince's family, where the estate's value is being eaten away by what could have been avoidable fees. To learn more about how to create a strong estate plan that protects wealth, diminishes liabilities and seeks to distribute assets in accordance with one's wishes, individuals should speak with a legal professional who is experienced at handling wills and trusts.