Prince tragically passed away last week, at the age of 57. His sister quickly filed a petition to open a probate for his estate, saying that he died without a will. When someone dies without a will, everything he or she owns is subject to the state probate code.

The probate court will make sure any debt, taxes, court fees and attorneys fees are paid before disbursing the estate to family.

Every state has its own rules of distribution, but in general the estate is divided up between your spouse and children. If you are unmarried or do not have children your estate will be distributed to any living parents or siblings. The “Purple Rain” artist was unmarried at the time of his death and leaves no children, so his sister and half siblings will likely receive his estate.

Probating an estate can take up to three years in the state of California, depending on the complexity of the estate and whether or not there is discord among the heirs. Attorney fees for probate can be immense.

California probate attorney fees are based on a percentage of the overall estate. In light of Prince’s alleged 300 million dollar estate, you can see that one large estate can lead to a windfall for an attorney- which is usually not what the deceased person would have wanted.

The estate must also pay court fees, which quickly add up when you need court approval for every action you need to take. The preliminary filing fee in California is over $400.

Most importantly however, is that dying without a will leaves your family with more questions than answers. It opens the door to family conflict. It exposes your assets to liability and risks paying more taxes or attorneys fees than you needed to. Your estate may end up going to a family member you would not have chosen.

Consider meeting with an experienced estate planner today to learn more about how you can plan ahead for your family. Planning your estate may not make any difference in the way you live your life, but it will make a difference in the way your legacy is remembered.


*Image by Billboard Music, Purple Rain 1984*

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Brittany Britton is licensed to practice law in the state of California only.