Last week’s blog, as you may recall, was all about love. It involved a real life prince and his princess - who are now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, thank you very much. This week’s post is about America’s own self-titled “Prince.” You remember, the one who unexpectedly died two years ago. The one who was an amazing songwriter, artist, and all-around eccentric. Don’t remember? Still have no idea who Prince is? Take a listen to “I Would Die 4 U.”
When Prince died it made international news. The shock of his death still reverberates and causes controversy. Case in point: Justin Timberlake “performing” with Prince via hologram at this year's Super Bowl. That didn't go over too well.
What continues to be shocking is that Prince did not leave a will. I wrote about this two years ago as word was just leaking out. The Washington Post recently followed up on the ramifications of this disastrous omission. “His estate, estimated at between $100 million and $300 million before taxes, is being supervised by many individuals not of his choosing…” The same people who oversee Graceland are managing his home, Paisley Park. And his possible heirs including a sister and five half siblings – one of whom had not seen Prince in 15 years – are fighting over who should get what.
Let’s be clear: all of this could have been avoided had Prince thought about his legacy and put down his wishes in a will.
Granted, most people are not jumping at the thought of contemplating their own mortality. And the statistics bear this out. Only 44% of Americans have a will. As you might expect, more people who are 65 and older have a will – 68%. But that’s ten percent less than the 78% of that age group who had a will in 2005.
Here are some things to consider:
1. If you (sadly) died tomorrow without a will, what would happen to your estate?
2. Who would be in charge of taking care of your money and possessions?
3. What would happen to your children (if they are minors), what about your pets?
4. Do you want to leave some or all of your estate to your church or other nonprofits?
The best way to be sure that you have control over what happens to your estate after your passing is to have a will. Contrary to what you might worry about, thinking about these things, praying about these things, can actually lift a burden and be freeing. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that – in the future – you are doing something fabulous for your family and for your church or favorite non-profit. What a wonderful surprise they’ll get.
“We are God’s stewards, entrusted to use His gifts for the good of our family and our church family. In thanksgiving, [you] should also take will writing seriously – setting your affairs in order, and stewarding them wisely to the end of [your] time on earth and beyond” (Parish Resources). So take it from the mess that Prince left: Get thee to an estate planning lawyer and get your will written. Then go listen to your favorite Prince song (“Little Red Corvette,” anyone?) and thank your lucky stars you’ve done the right thing.