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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