Tag Archives: Probate

6 other stars who didn’t have wills

AmyWinehouse2004MercuryPrizePA230711There have been numerous stories lately about Prince and the fact that he had no known will when he died.  But he’s not the only famous person who wasn’t prepared.

Here are 6 others who died without a will:

1)      Michael Jackson died in 2009 at age 50.  A will did finally surface naming his mother and children as his beneficiaries.  However, his estate is still in the news.  The IRS is claiming that posthumous projects initiated by the estate are worth more than $434 million and they want their share of the take.
2)      Amy Winehouse died in 2011 at age 27.  She was thought to have a will when she died, but it turned out she didn’t.  Her estate ultimately went to her parents.
3)      Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981 at age 36.  It took more than 30 years before his estate was settled.  Under Jamaican law his estate was to be divided equally between his wife and his 11 children.  Court battles raged for many years to determine who was entitled to Marley’s name and likeness.
4)      Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 at age 27 but the fight for his estate went on for more than 30 years.  The estate went to his father and when he died, Hendrix’s sister was left in control of the musician’s $80 million estate.  However, the court fight was about who had the right to use the singer’s image and it was finally settled shortly before a scheduled July 2015 jury trial.
5)      Sonny Bono died in 1998 at age 62.   His wife Mary Bono has to go through probate court to become the executor of the estate and it ultimately was divided between her and his two children.
6)      Kurt Cobain died in 1994 at age 27.  His wife Courtney Love was the primary beneficiary of the publishing rights to his estate.  In 2010 the couple’s then 18-year-old daughter took control of her trust fund which was more than a third of the estate.  That same year, Love gave up rights to Cobain’s name and likeness for a loan.

Just because these people were not prepared and did not leave wills, that’s no reason for you to follow suit.  Don’t let the probate court decide who should inherit your estate.  Write a will and tell your family and other loved ones what you want to have happen to all of your assets.  You decided and make your wishes known.

For more information about estate planning, go to our website www.diesmart.com.

 

Why didn’t Prince have a will?

PrinceThat’s a question that we’ll never know the answer to.  If he was like more than half of the people in this country, he just hadn’t gotten around to writing one, didn’t think he needed a will or didn’t care what happened to his estate once he was gone.  Regardless of his reason, the fact remains that he didn’t have a will and the probate court will decide what happens to all of his assets.

Minnesota law is quite clear.  If a person dies intestate (without a will), the estate goes to his children, grandchildren, spouse or parents.  Since Prince had no children, grandchildren or spouse and his parents are deceased, his entire estate will go to his brothers and sisters.  Prince had six half-brothers and half-sisters as well as a full sister, Tyka Nelson.  In Minnesota, half siblings are considered to have the same inheritance rights as those who are full siblings.

To muddy the waters, hundreds of people have come forward and said they were relatives of Prince.  In addition, a Minnesota man in his 30’s has said that he’s Prince’s son as a result of a relationship between the deceased and his mother in the 1980’s.

Prince’s estate has been estimated at between $150 and $300 million.  In addition to real estate and money, there are several unpublished works and a lot of unreleased music that can be worth millions.

Something that hasn’t been discussed in any of the articles we’ve read is Prince’s digital estate.  He kept many unpublished works in a vault bank but what if he kept others in an electronic account?  What if there is a will but it is stored in Drop Box or some other online storage facility?  Unless he left instructions or provided someone with a list of his digital accounts and their passwords, we may never know the full extent of his assets and their value.

Whatever the final disposition of Prince’s estate – who receives what based on Minnesota probate law – and its final value, there are two lessons we should all learn from this.

  1.  See an attorney and get a will prepared.  Even if you don’t have the kind of assets Prince had, it’s still a very important thing to do.  Don’t let state statutes determine what happens to your estate.  You decide.
  2. Document your wishes related to your digital assets.  Do you want anyone to see what’s in your private emails or do you want them destroyed?  Do you want your Facebook account shut down or do you want it to be memorialized and continue?  What do you want to happen to your Bitcoin account?  What are your logons and passwords for accounts that have financial implications?

Don’t wait.  You don’t know what will happen tomorrow or how long you’ll be on this earth.  Get your legal paperwork in order now.

To find out more information about estate planning, go to our website www.diesmart.com.  To find out more about digital estates, check out our book, Access Denied: Why your passwords are now just as important as your will.

Why is Michael Jackson’s estate back in the news?

michael jacksonWhen Michael Jackson died in 2009 at age 50, he left a will that specified what should be done with his assets.

He may not have taken into consideration what those assets would be worth in subsequent years…but the IRS has now done so.  There is now a huge dispute between the Internal Revenue Service and Michael Jackson’s estate over what should be paid in estate taxes.

According to Michael Jackson’s representatives, the value of the estate is currently $2,105; according to the IRS, it’s more like $434 million.    “With interest and penalties, lawyers estimate the case – set for trial at a Los Angeles tax tribunal in 2017 – could be worth more than $1 billion.”  The outcome of this trial could impact celebrity estate planning.

Howard Weitzman, the estate’s lead attorney, that the Michael Jackson name has “experienced a commercial rebirth thanks to the savvy executors who have managed the estate’s assets.”  He estimates that Jackson earned no more than $50 million for the licensing of his name and image when he was alive and doesn’t think that what’s been done since Jackson’s death should impact what the estate pays.

It is important to note that this is the first time ever that the IRS is pursuing estate taxes for name and likeness earnings after a celebrity’s death.

If the estate loses the case, Michael Jackson’s heirs will be hit with a huge tax bill.  If the IRS wins, this will probably be the first of many celebrity estate cases that it will pursue.

You are probably not worth $434 million and your heirs won’t be faced with this kind of issue when you die.

However, knowing what your estate is worth and putting into place the correct type of plan to protect these assets for your loved one is critically important.  If you don’t have a will, you should consult an estate attorney and get one written today.  Otherwise, the government will decide what will happen to your assets and your family will have no say in the matter.

For information about estate planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

 

 

Does your state law protect your digital assets?

51j2ST20YwL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_Last year, a comprehensive law was proposed by the National Conference on Uniform State Laws.  That law places access to a wide range of digital assets on a par with access to traditional tangible assets.

“As the number of digital assets held by the average person increases, questions surrounding the disposition of these assets upon the individual’s death or incapacity are becoming more common.  Few laws exist on the rights of fiduciaries over digital assets.  Few holders of digital assets and accounts consider the fate of their online presences once they are no longer able to manage their assets.”

Nearly half of U.S. state introduced legislation in 2015 to enact this revised Uniform Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA).  However, most of them have been unable to actually pass the law due to opposition from Internet and telecommunications companies.  As of March 2016, only four state have enacted legislation based on this Act – Oregon, Wyoming, Tennessee and Florida.

Are you concerned about who will have access to your digital assets when you become incapacitated or die?  Do you care whether family members can see your emails and other personal electronic correspondence?  Would you prefer that loved ones can continue to maintain your Facebook account or do you want it shut down?  These are just a few of the questions that the revised UFADAA may be able to address…only if your state adopts appropriate legislation.

For more information about digital assets, check out our book ACCESS DENIED or go to our website www.DieSmart.com.

Which state is the first to adopt the revised UFADAA?

oregonOregon became the first state to adopt the revised Uniform fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act when Governor Kate Brown signed it into law on March 3, 2016.  It will become effective on January 1, 2017.

The revised act is designed to ensure that account holders can retail control of their digital property and can plan for its disposition after their death.  It also helps avoid circumstances where online service providers delete deceased’s accounts without authorization or refuse to hand over access and information to permitted fiduciaries.

Will your state be next?

For more information about the revised UFADAA, go to www.diesmart.com.