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Phone: 201-345-3018

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Music icon's death highlights the importance of estate planning

The unexpected death of musician Prince stunned people across the United States and the world. Having sold more than one hundred million albums over his career and having completed many successful concert tours, Prince amassed a fortune estimated at many hundreds of millions of dollars. Considering the size of his estate, the fact that Prince died without a will or trust was surprising to many estate planning professionals.

Had Prince died with a valid will or trust in place, his assets and property would have been transferred in an orderly fashion to the manner he intended. Instead, multiple individuals have made claims against the late musician's estate. Among these individuals are Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson and six half-siblings. Moreover, other individuals have made claims against his estate as well. For instance, a federal inmate in Colorado claims that he is Prince's son. If true, this man would stand to inherit Prince's entire fortune. However Prince's estate is eventually resolved, there is no question that with a will or trust, the process would be easier, faster and relatively free of drama.

What happens when someone dies without a will?

When someone dies without a will or with an invalid will, their estate goes through what is known as the intestate succession process. Every state has specific laws that determine how someone's assets will be distributed. For instance, in New Jersey, if someone dies without a will, the deceased's spouse or domestic partner has the first claim to the estate. If the deceased has children from another relationship, these children will also share in the estate. If there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner, the deceased's children are to split the estate equally. If there are no children, the parents. If no surviving parents, than any grandparents would inherit.

Some states have different intestate succession laws. Regardless of a state's specific laws, when you die have a will, you let the state decide how your assets will be distributed. Young or old, rich or poor, everyone can benefit from a properly structured estate plan. For years, individuals and families in Bergen County and beyond have placed their trust in Michael A. Manna & Associates. Our experience and estate planning knowledge has made a difference for clients time and again.

Sources: Judge orders Bremer Trust to handle Prince's estate: by Emma Nelson. Star Tribune, April 27, 2016, Prince estate: Colorado inmate says he is singer's son, sole heir: by Sara Sidner, CNN.com, May 11, 2016, New Jersey Revised Statute Section 3B:5-4

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