Prince Rogers Nelson, the musician known as Prince, died one year ago today, at the age of 57.
He died with no known spouse, no known living children, no living parents, one known living sister, five known living half-siblings, an estate that appears to be worth somewhere between $100 million and $300 million, and, apparently, nothing resembling a will or estate plan.
Efforts to untangle Nelson’s estate are so public that the Carver County District Court has created a website section just for documents related to the Nelson estate.
Judge Kevin Eide, the Carver County judge presiding over the probate proceedings, ruled in January that Comerica Bank & Trust N.A. should serve as the administrator. The likely heirs and people who are hoping to be classified as heirs are still battling over basic matters such as the accuracy of the genetic of heirs not currently classified as Nelson’s close relatives.
The obvious lesson from the Prince estate story for insurance agents, financial advisors, estate planning lawyers and other advisors is that they should try to persuade their clients to do a much better job of getting their affairs in order.
Here are some other thoughts about what the story means.
The Brain (Image: Thinkstock)
1. People are mysterious.
Nelson built a major music business and was involved in a ferocious legal fight with a record company, Warner Brothers, for years.
He obviously knew many lawyers, and he was obviously bright enough and worldly enough that even many ordinary people have wills.
He might have avoided establishing an estate plan simply because he was careless, or simply because he never received the right pitch from the right financial or legal professional, but he might have made a conscious choice to avoid thinking about the future, or to avoid thinking about his relationship with his sibling and half-siblings.
For financial professionals, knowing what clients really want is always difficult.
One of the great battles for agents and advisors is to try to overcome the psychological barriers that keep people from taking good care of themselves, and their loved ones.
(Related: The Love Letter Strategy)