Fans worldwide were shocked and grief-stricken to hear of music icon, Prince’s recent death. Many were also surprised to learn that the popular singer/rock star passed away without having a legal will in place.
This is not uncommon. For various reasons, including the fact that many simply don’t like to talk about their own mortality, people die every day without having executed a will or any type of estate plan. Although, this might not seem like an important issue compared to the sorrow of losing a loved one, things can quickly go awry and escalate into full-blown family wars when arguments occur over property, assets and other matters of inheritance.
Especially in situations where a decedent was materially wealthy (like Prince) the legal process for asset distribution can be very complicated and lengthy. Probate litigation often lingers, with emotions rising and tempers flaring in the meantime (though there seems to be no evidence of this among Prince’s siblings)
Mustering up the courage to face the reality of one’s own death and taking appropriate steps to secure an estate plan and provide for loved ones’ futures is an act of kindness that may help prevent contentious situations further down the line. It may be difficult to fathom siblings, spouses, step-parents and other close relatives arguing over a deceased loved one’s belongings. However, this type of dispute all too often leads to permanent breakdowns in familial relationships.
Stories abound of brothers and sisters who cease speaking to one another for decades because of dissatisfaction regarding estate issues of a deceased parent. Relationships between a second spouse and children of a first marriage often turn ugly when a decedent’s plan for distributing assets was left unattended.
For those of meager means, an estate plan may be simple and to the point. Other situations are very complicated and crafting a thorough estate plan may be a bit more difficult. It is also advisable to execute Advanced Directives so that someone can be named to act on your behalf should you become incapable of doing so.
Anyone who wishes to help family members void this type of confusion and uncertainty after his or her own death may want to begin by talking about their final intentions and wishes, then doing what is necessary to draft a solid estate plan.
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.