To turn a well-known cliché on its head, pop singer/songwriter Prince is proving that where there is not a will there is a way for probate to devolve into an unmitigated quagmire of nonstop conflict and relentless expense. With some reasonable assistance from an estate planning attorney most of this consternation could have been avoided. Now barely over a year since the wildly successful musician passed away the litigation in the Minnesota probate courts is really just getting warmed up.
Probate is the court-supervised administration of an estate and is required in California if a person passes away either without a will (like Prince) or with a will but with more than $150,000 in gross assets held outside of a trust. Because probate is a public proceeding (unlike the administration of a living trust) it is a venue for purported or actual heirs to vent their grievances with the assistance of a variety of well-compensated professionals. In California you can opt-out of this often painful process with a living trust and you generally should.
The High (or low) Lights of the Prince Probate
- A woman who alleged that she was married to Prince but that the CIA covered it up (seriously)
- Multiple discredited claims of paternity
- An estimated estate value in excess of $300 Million
- Lady Gaga’s former manager named as entertainment adviser for the estate
- Comerica Bank named as the second administrator replacing Besemer Bank
- Conflict between the heirs regarding a licensing deal
Abject Failure in Planning
As much as this case represents the frailty in the process of administering a complex estate without a will, it moreover represents an abject failure in estate planning. By taking the proper steps, you can have the peace of mind that your wishes will be followed outside the purview of the California probate courts. Please call for a free consultation about how to properly set up and understand your California estate plan so that you and your family are properly protected.