The death of music legend Prince at the age of 57 earlier this month took many people in California and around the world by surprise. Another surprise may be in store for his family members: at the time this post was prepared, it was still unclear whether he left a will. His sister filed papers in court recently stating the musician had no known will and requesting that a special administrator be appointed to oversee his estate.
The size of Prince's estate is not known. Public records indicate he owned about $27 million in real estate near his suburban Minneapolis estate, all of it free of mortgages and other liens.
There is still a possibility that a will could turn up. Minnesota law allows people to file wills with the court confidentially. If that is the case the will's existence would not be made public until a death certificate is issued which hasn't happened yet.
It is also possible that Prince had a revocable trust, which in Minnesota - as in California - does not have to be filed with the probate court. Trusts are the estate planning vehicle of choice for many wealthy individuals, in part because they are an effective means of avoiding probate.
If Prince died without a will or trust, the result could be years of litigation for his family and business associates. Most people don't expect to die at 57, but one of the purposes of estate planning is to prepare for the unexpected. Prince's death reminds us all that it's a good idea to begin the estate planning process sooner rather than later.
Source: mprnews.org, "Prince's sister says he had no known will," April 26, 2016