Berman & Asbel, LLP

Smart estate planning can help to avoid a Prince-like scenario

Prince was a legend for many Pennsylvanians, making highly creative music for decades. During his life, Prince went to great lengths to protect his body of work. Therefore, it may be surprising to fans that he did not have a will in place to properly distribute his assets.

There are several things that performers, artists and songwriters should do to make certain that their estate plans are in order. People should begin by creating wills that name the executors that will handle their estates and the assets that will be distributed to their heirs. Assets that are held in living trusts are not included in wills, however. If an artist has an estate that is of a fairly good size, he or she may want to consider establishing a living trust. This allows assets to pass outside of the court probate process as directed in the terms of the trust.

Having durable powers of attorney and living wills in place is also important. These allow another trusted person to make financial and health decisions for the person in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. People should also make certain that their beneficiary designations for their life insurance policies, bank accounts and retirement accounts are up to date. For accounts with transfer-on-death provisions, people should name to whom the account balances should go upon their deaths. Finally, gathering together all of the information regarding account numbers and locations into one document is important.

Musicians may want to consult with both an estate planning attorney as well as a music attorney. The two lawyers could then work together to make sure their client's body of work is protected. An estate planning attorney may also be able to suggest the particular types of estate planning documents that are most appropriate for an individual client's estate and needs. This may help to prevent a later will contest.

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