The current status of the late Prince Rogers Nelson is a stunning, costly lesson in estate planning that teaches us the same fate that befell Prince’s estate can happen to anyone who fails to properly plan his or her estate. It doesn’t matter if we are in his home state of Wisconsin, or right here in Corning, New York, the dramatic results can be the same or worse. Prince’s estate exemplifies the necessity of comprehensive estate planning and demonstrates that with advanced and proper estate planning the issues currently facing his estate could have been seriously mitigated, if not completely avoided.

We all must address our estate, including answering the question of what will become of our assets, our belongings, and our life’s work product. Working with an experienced attorney is not only necessary but vital to the success of your planning. While making decisions that are right for you is one of the goals of estate planning, it is just one of them. The truth is, estate planning isn’t just about you; instead, it’s about you, your family, your business and the things you care about like your favorite charity, cause or church.

Prince’s estate complications not only prove the absolute necessity of comprehensive and advanced estate planning but highlight three major areas where just a little advanced planning would have yielded dramatic benefits for both Prince personally and for his assets. First and foremost, Prince should have had a trust in place. If Prince had a properly drafted, executed and funded trust would have kept his private life private. His wishes could have been honored with dignity, instead of making headlines news each day. Second, Prince should have engaged in estate tax planning and considered the tax consequences of his death on his assets using the protections that only certain trusts can provide. He should have considered the formation of one or more trusts which would have significantly lowered this tax burden, protected his family and created a lasting legacy that would protect his business. Lastly, advanced directives and a living will should have been in place well before his passing so that his wishes as to end of life healthcare decisions were respected by his medical providers.

The real reason he didn’t create a robust trust plan is something we are guilty of – procrastination. For most of us, thinking about a time when we will not be here or we will not be able to make our own decisions is not something we wish to dwell on. If recent news is anything, however, we are shown time and time again how just a little of planning can go a long way to protect family, our assets and ourselves. Let’s set a time to talk about you and the planning or planning updates you may need right now.