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Planning now protects your loved ones later

Protect your assets - prepare an estate plan

The world was stunned when we learned that Prince had passed unexpectedly at the age of 57. How is that possible?!? That same question came up when I learned that Prince died without a will. In life Prince was so concerned about his musical legacy that he stopped using his name for seven years in order to wrest control of his music away from his record label. When discussing the topic with Rolling Stone, Prince said, “If you don’t own your masters [master recordings], your master owns you.”

An artist that concerned about controlling his music while alive would surely have wanted to exert control over his image and music from beyond the grave.

Instead, the persona and music of Prince will likely be tied up in court for years as his legal heirs fight and wrangle for control. In the end, the lawyers and the government will be the big winners likely taking more than half of his estimated $300 million dollar estate. Not too long after that we’ll hear “Purple Rain” as a jingle for hair dye and “Little Red Corvette” re-recorded as “Little Red Kia.”

The only reason I can fathom that Prince didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure he forever controlled his legacy is that he, like his fans, never thought he’d die. Sure, everybody knows they’re going to die someday, but that’s way off in the future. Right now, when we can do something about it, we have other things to do.

I got a call last week from the son of a couple who suffer from dementia. The son has decided it’s time his parents do some low-cost estate planning. While I help people with simple planning all the time, I can only do so when they still have their faculties about them. Once a person no longer understands what they have and who their heirs are, it’s no longer simple. It’s costly and time consuming. What a horrible burden to leave your children.

It’s not just parents who burden their children. I’ve received heart-breaking phone calls from parents who cannot speak for their children because their adult child never executed a healthcare power of attorney. They can’t even handle their child’s business during a short-term incapacity because they lack a financial power of attorney. Those that have the power, often lack the information. Online cloud storage, photo storage, social media accounts — all inaccessible because nobody left behind a list of the domains, log-ins, and passwords. Will they even find all of Prince’s creative output?

They say Prince left thousands of recordings behind. Without any guidance, who knows how they might be exploited. Prince was one-of-a-kind. I doubt that the person or committee who ends up in control of his legacy will possess a similar genius. His court-appointed executors are already talking about launching a circus-like Vegas show using all unreleased music. I shudder.

God bless Prince. God bless grieving families. Go out and do the planning necessary to minimize the grief, suffering, and upset that your incapacity or death will inevitably impose on your family.

Best wishes,
Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (818)348-6700 E: info@thelawcollaborative.com
www.thelawcollaborative.com

When Stars Collide

14-05-15 Newsletter_Header_Experts_In_Court

Madonna and her ex, Guy Ritchie, are locked in a transatlantic custody battle over their 15 year-old son Rocco. With cases filed in both the USA and the UK, even the courts were in dispute until a judge in London approved Madonna’s request to withdraw her UK filings.

Before doing so however, the British judge joined his American counterpart in suggesting the celebrity parents try to settle things outside of court stating, “It would be a very great tragedy for Rocco if any more of the precious and fast receding days of his childhood were to be taken up by this dispute. Far better for each of his parents to spend that time enjoying… the company of the… young man who is their son and who is a very great credit to them both.”

The judge continued, “I renew, one final time, my plea for the parents to seek, and to find an amicable resolution to the dispute between them.” But the conflict continues and Madonna and Ritchie are scheduled to appear in a New York court on June 1st.

In California, parents are required by statute to meet with a court appointed child custody mediator before they can ask a Judge to rule on custody issues. As a result of a program my father Ron was instrumental in implementing in Van Nuys in the late 70s, volunteer lawyers are also available to assist parties in finding mutually agreeable solutions before court. That mediation program was so successful that it was eventually implemented in most Southern California counties.

Another California twist on this case is Rocco’s age. With the enactment of Family Code Section 3042, Judges are now required to consider the custody preferences of a child over 14 years old when issuing a decision. Children under 14 can still express their preferences but the court can disregard them because the legal standard is “best interests of the child.” In California, if 15 year old Rocco said he wants to spend all his time touring with mom and hanging out with her groupies, the judge might not grant his wish. But the judge must explain in the ruling what their considerations were and how they affected the decision.

Hopefully Rocco’s parents take the judge’s recommendation to heart: a parenting plan they design is far more likely to fit with their lifestyles and values than anything a stranger in a robe can impose. Some Judges in Los Angeles won’t even make orders regarding holidays, instead warning the parents that if they cannot reach an agreement between themselves and counsel, the court will impose sanctions. At The Law Collaborative we strongly believe that parents know what is best for their children. Leaving it to a judge in a custody proceeding, or leaving it to a probate court when a parent dies is rarely “best” and always more expensive and destructive to the family. Siblings forced through probate sometimes never speak again.

Parents owe a duty to protect their children during divorce and avoid creating conflicts for them after death. Using mediation or Collaborative Law during divorce and preparing a proper estate plan can help avoid unnecessary drama, cost, and alienation. Please feel free to call me if you want to discuss anything in this article.

Ty Supancic works with his father Ron at The Law Collaborative to help families avoid crisis

Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
(818) 348-6700 F: (818) 348-0961