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Even wealthy rock stars make the mistake of not having a will

By now, everyone has probably heard that the international rock star Prince died in his studio in Minnesota in late April. That he died at the young age of just 57 may not have come as a great surprise to anyone who knows about the hard-living ways of entertainers in today's world. That he died without leaving a last will and testiment to properly dispense of his $300 million estate, however, should come as a surprise and disappointment to everyone.

Won't the probate court distribute your assets to your loved ones anyway?

In Princes home state of Minnesota, like in North Carolina, when an estate holder dies intestate (without a will) assets will be turned over to a court-appointed estate administrator to decide how to distribute the wealth among family members and others with beneficiary claims.

If Prince had been married at the time of his death, the lack of a will would not be such an important matter. His assets would remain in his wife's name as marital property. (Barring a prenuptial agreement keeping specific assets as separate property.) If he was divorced but had children from his marriage, his children would probably be named his legal heirs, unless he had specifically disinherited any of them.

Settle the problem now, while you are still alive. Draft your will.

Every estate with significant assets is subject to inheritance claims by distant relatives of dubious lineage, hangers on, business associates and ne'er-do-wells of every stripe. In this case, not having a will may cost Prince's legitimate family members years of litigation. In the end the estate will likely go to the very people that Prince held most dear in his heart, anyway.

Drafting a will today will save your loved ones from potential probate problems at the time of your death. Don't leave things to chance and don't assume that a probate administrator will know what you would have wanted. Do the right thing. Talk to an attorney about having your will drafted or updated now. Even if you don't have a $300 million dollar estate.

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