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Did Prince Die Without a Will? What Can We Learn from the Music Icon

We were all shocked to learn about the passing of a legend last week. Details are now emerging about his estate plan, or lack thereof. Prince was a savvy businessman during his lifetime, but there are sources reporting that he possibly died without a Will. If this is true, we may never understand why he didn’t have an estate plan, but here are some lessons we can learn from this:

1.) Someone could inherit that you wouldn’t want to – Let’s see how this would play out if Prince was a resident of Georgia and passed without a will. Since Prince was not married at the time he passed away and had no children, under Georgia law, his heirs would be his parents. However, since both parents passed away before him, his siblings would inherit his entire estate. Interestingly enough, Prince only had one whole sister, Tyka Nelson, but several half brothers and sisters. Under Georgia Law, Tyka Nelson and the other siblings would inherit in equal shares, even though they were only half siblings!

Now here is where things can get a little tricky – two of the half-siblings passed away prior to Prince. If they had children, the half-siblings’ share would go to their living children!

2.) A person you would want to inherit, won’t – We all know that Prince was not only an amazing artist, but he was an activist and philanthropist. If he died without a will, there is no mandate requiring that any of the estate be given to further the causes he championed during his lifetime. We also know that Prince had close friends that weren’t family, but if there was no will specifically giving them anything, those friends won’t receive a dime.

3.) Your private life could turn public – There is now talk about turning his estate, Paisley Park, into a museum. This is a cool thought for fans like me to get the opportunity to see where Prince called home, but we also know that Prince was a very private person. I am curious if he would have wanted his private residence turned into a public museum, but we’ll never know what he wanted since he did not express his wishes in writing!

4.) Most of us won’t have the luxury of time to prepare for death – The news of Prince’s passing was shocking, to say the least. So many people put off planning, not realizing that the unexpected can happen to them and their family too! Having the conversation can be hard and facing your mortality can scary, but it’s necessary to make life easier for the ones we leave behind. Have the conversation and get things in order now. Prince was young at 57, but not too young to get his affairs in order.

5.) There may not be a next time – If I would have known that this month’s performance at the Fox here in Atlanta would have been my last opportunity to see Prince live, I would have done EVERYTHING possible to be there front row and center. But I was busy with work, didn’t think the timing was right, and just said to myself, I’ll go see The Purple One next time. We tend to do this a lot in life, don’t we? Wait until next time. Remember, there might not always be a next time. Enjoy your life to the fullest. The time is now to tell loved ones how much they mean to you. Life can take an unexpected turn in an instant, but we all know death is certain. Do what you can do today to make sure your family is protected when something happens to you.

6.) Sometimes a Will isn’t enough – If Prince did not have a will, the public will have a front seat to the court proceeding called probate. We will all know first-hand how much his estate was worth and how much his siblings and possibly nieces and/or nephews would receive. If you are concerned about probate for your family, just know that having a will does not bypass this process! There are ways to avoid probate, but having a will is not one of them!

I’ve been jamming out to Prince’s music since learning of his passing. I’ve taken this time to enjoy his art and the memories that come with it. Hopefully, you will take this as an opportunity to not only remember and appreciate a legend, but to examine whether everything would turn out the way you would want. If you don’t have an estate plan, it probably won’t.

If you want to learn more about why estate planning is important to you and your family, call our office at (404) 267-1377 or visit and register for one of our free workshops.

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