The April 21 death of the Artist formerly known as Prince came as a shock to people around the world. The beloved troubadour’s demise sparked tributes from Los Angeles to Beijing.
While the $300 million estate he left behind is more than most of us could ever dream of, news of unpleasant family clashes over Prince’s fortune have gotten people thinking. These hopeful relatives are clashing for one reason only – Prince died without preparing a will.
Huge spike in people seeking advice on wills.
The online legal information service, nolo.com, has enjoyed a 24% increase in the sale of its DYI will-writing tool, 42% for its Living Trust component and 42% for its Online Will. And they’re not alone. LegalZoom.com has seen its business explode by almost 50%, following international star, Prince’s death. They’ve also been inundated by people seeking attorney counsel in drafting their wills.
Other services have similarly seen people rushing to prepare themselves for the inevitable, boosting their online traffic by as much as 61%.
Meanwhile, back at Prince’s estate, his heirs and assigns have placed themselves in the loving care of the state, having been given little alternative. The process of probate is not only tedious, it’s expensive. This isn’t, by far, the first time a celebrity has died without a will. Every time a high profile person dies, leaving a lot of money and no will, the general public pricks up its ears, provoking a rush to attorneys’ offices.
Brian Raftery, a trust attorney at Herrick, Feinstein in New York City notes that hearing horror stories from other people can send the intestate scurrying to their local law shop, too. But under 70% of Americans over the age of 55 have a will. That number shrinks for those under that benchmark. Only 22% of under-55s have anything resembling a legal will and testament.
It’s not that painful.
The good news is that the whole process can be kicked off online. The online option doesn’t take care of everything people planning their estates have to do, but it’s a good start. Setting up a will is not even that expensive, according to Stacey Decker of Merrill Edge in Oak Lawn, Illinois. You can get yourself squared away for as little as $2,000. This figure includes healthcare proxy and power of attorney appointments, as well as an estate plan which includes amounts held in trust. Even better, you can do it all in the span of a day. That said, more complex estates can take several weeks to set up. If you’re an average person who doesn’t require a great deal of detail, your simple will can be completed for $400. This figure, of course, doesn’t include setting up trusts.
When it comes to getting your will taken care of, it’s well worth the effort. Should you pass away suddenly, you’ve left your relatives with the dreaded probate option. Probate can cost tens of thousands of dollars; dollars that your family will never see and all because you pulled a “Prince”, when you might have done the right thing.
While it may seem morbid to some, planning for your death and how your worldly goods are going to be distributed to those who survive you is well worth the little time and money it takes to achieve. They say one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but Prince’s relatives were left with few options.