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Prince Rogers Nelson, the musical giant known as Prince, died suddenly last month at age 57 without leaving a will, throwing his musical legacy and his tax situation into turmoil. He was known in his lifetime for an almost obsessive control of his music, having succeeded in taking over his valuable copyrights two years ago. That control is now upended as there apparently is no will or trust naming an executor or trustee to be in charge. The oversight of his music and his legacy is now thrown into a Minnesota court, which named a local bank as an interim caretaker of his estate. The fate of Prince’s fabled “vault”, that mysterious and potentially vast collection of unreleased recordings, may also be up in the air. Initially, it appears that his full sister and five half-siblings may be the ones to share his estate. So many people take scrupulous care of their businesses, yet forget their family, their legacy, their privacy, their tax planning and the good they can do in the world by neglecting a simple thing like writing a will.

Administering an estate without a plan can be complicated, contentious and costly, not to mention entirely on the public record. The untimely death of a musical legend reminds us to take the time to put together a meaningful estate plan with a knowledgeable professional. Update it periodically. You will be doing your family – and your legacy – a favor.

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