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I was shock that Prince who worked so hard to have complete control of his name and music, died without a will. Some estimates place the value of his estate at 300 million, not including his vault full of unpunished work. More than 50% of his estate will go to paying taxes. Millions will go to pay lawyer fees just to settle his estate.
I am by no means an expert in estate planning but leaving 50% of your life’s work to the IRS is just plain dumb. That money, for example, could have been transferred tax free into a charitable foundation supporting young musicians, song writers or music students.
“A survey from RocketLawyer.com, a legal services web site, back in March 2012 found that 50% of Americans with children do not have a will. Even more alarming, 41% of baby boomers (age 55-64) don’t have one. The top three reasons cited by survey respondents for not having a will: procrastination, a belief that they don’t need one and cost.”
Without a will, your estate will be divided according to where you live
- In Ohio, if you are married and you have a child from a previous relationship and you die without a will, your spouse inherits the first $20,000 of your intestate property, plus one-half of the balance of the estate. The child gets the other half.
- In Georgia, a spouse and descendants equally share the intestate property, but the spouse’s share may not be less than one-third.
- In Florida, if you are legally married, your spouse inherits all the assets with none going to the children (or descendants).
- In Tennessee, when one spouse dies without a will, the surviving spouse is entitled to at least one third of the estate, and the surviving children split the rest.
- In Texas if you are unmarried and have children, all your property will pass to them, even if you are living with someone.
Now, deciding who will get your things after you die is one of life’s more uncomfortable tasks. I have to admit that I never had a will until my wife and I had children. The main incentive in getting a will was to name guardians for our two young children in case we both died. As teenagers, it used to freak them out, when we traveled without them and said “the will is in the safe”. The saying turned out to be our good luck charm since we always came back in one piece.
The cost of getting a will is cheap compared to the fees that governments charge a family member to be appointed the administrator of your estate. For example, where I live, the current government fee is $2,500 including having to doing a lot of paperwork. Letting the government decide who should to appointed guardians of your children is also scary.
Last year was an exceptional bad year for going to funerals of family and friends. It was very sad that five out of six were under the age of 60! I know of at least one who died without a will, leaving a big mess for the grieving family to clean up. Do your family a favour, make a will, don’t leave them a bill to clean up your financial affairs.