Music star Prince, who was widely regarded as one of the greatest artists, musicians and record producers of his generation, died aged 57 in 2016 after a long career topping music charts around the world. He left behind a valuable and complicated estate, but had not made a will, leading to a six-year legal battle between his family. This article examines the issues that can arise if you die intestate and the risk that your assets will not be distributed in the way you want.
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Prince was divorced twice, had no children, and his parents had predeceased him, so his estate automatically passed to his six surviving siblings. According to her only sibling, Tyka Nelson, she is survived by herself, John Nelson, Norrine Nelson, Sharon Nelson, Alfred Jackson and Omar Baker.
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His estate was eventually distributed among three brothers and publisher Primary Wave, who bought the rights to Prince’s catalog from three heirs, two of whom are deceased. After a long dispute over the value of the estate, it was recently revalued at £114 million, almost double a previous appraisal. This is expected to end the six-year legal battle to value and distribute the estate.
Regardless of the size of your estate, how can you avoid leaving problems similar to those caused by Prince’s death without a will?
If you die in the UK without a will, you are considered to have died ‘intestate’, which means your estate is distributed according to rules set out based on people’s relationship to you. This can lead to problems and, unfortunately, litigation, as the complexities of family life do not always fit neatly into the rules of intestacy.
The current rules in England and Wales were introduced in October 2014 and are mainly found in Parts 3 and 4 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925. These provisions state that the division of an intestate estate will follow a fixed order based on the following relationships. (click on the flowchart for a larger version):
What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
The rules do not take into account the multitude of modern family dynamics, including second marriages, divorces, stepchildren, separated family members, separated couples, unmarried or cohabiting couples. The rules are still largely based on the social norms in place when they were created: 1925.
By not making a will, people outside your immediate family will not inherit any of your assets regardless of your intentions.
Although the rules of intestacy dictate how your estate should be distributed, certain people related to the person who died (including dependents or people living with the deceased) can still make a claim for financial provision under Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents). Act of 1975.
, a stepfather’s entire estate passed to seven distant cousins and not to his stepson. In
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, a father had gifted property to his son in a 2017 will, but his remarriage in 2019 had revoked that will. In both cases, the individuals’ assets had been distributed under the intestacy rules, but both were successfully challenged under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act of 1975
Alternatively, beneficiaries can apply for a deed of modification or a deed of family cohabitation within two years of the death. This is an agreement between all the people who would have inherited under the rules to distribute the assets differently, even to people who would not have inherited under the rules of intestacy or by changing the proportions of the distributions.
Both are complex and costly situations, the risks of which can be reduced by leaving a valid will.
The distribution of an estate under the rules of intestacy can be very time consuming and expensive. According to the heirs of Prince’s estate, in the first three years after his death, they had accumulated $45 million in administrator fees, including $10 million in legal fees.
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Research carried out in October 2021 by the Opinium survey found that a significant proportion of the 1,043 retired and semi-retired UK adults aged 55 and over surveyed had not made a will.
Further research (not based on age restrictions), carried out in June 2020 of over 1,000 members of the public showed that only 29% said they had an updated Will reflecting their current intentions.
It may seem laborious and forever at the bottom of your to-do list, but having an up-to-date update ensures you’re making decisions for yourself and gives you peace of mind.
Subscribe – Subscribe here to get our news straight to your inbox. Our newsletters are sent no more than once a month.Challenges Grief Mental Health Personal Both my parents died before I was 30 years old. This is how I deal with grief. Posted on June 7, 2018
What Happens If You Die Before Your Elderly Parents?
It’s not easy to lose both parents in your twenties. And grief? It’s a punch in the gut.
It’s like a sharp-toothed creature inside your chest. Like a shrinking chasm crawling down your throat. Like an animal going through your ribcage.
Grief is lethargic. He has an insatiable appetite. It fills you with fury, sucks you into the quicksand and buries you under piles of duvet covers. It sneaks up on you around corners and reduces you to tears in seconds.
But grief is also absolutely fundamental. It is the recovery process of how we mentally and physically cope with the loss of a loved one.
Always Too Soon By Christina Kline
I should know. I’ve been doing it for ten years now, and I just had to start all over again.
In January 2009, two months before my 21st birthday, my mother died of a sudden and unexpected recurrence of cancer. It was quick and brutal: the time from the terminal diagnosis to his death was just two weeks.
I didn’t understand what had happened, and neither did my father. I was in college at the time and a week after the funeral I went back to class in a daze because I had no idea what else to do.
Fast forward eight years to March 2017, when my dad’s pulmonary fibrosis got so bad that he was in the hospital for a month and had a pacemaker put on him. All my friends told me to be positive, but I knew from the doctors’ expressions and my father’s growing exhaustion that this was it. Death would happen again, and it would be soon.
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In October 2017 my father died. This time we were “prepared”, as much as you can be, and since I had known death before, I thought it might be easier.
Dealing with my father’s death has been a whole new experience. Now I feel rudderless: without parents or siblings, I’m officially the only living member of my family, and my entire identity feels irrevocably different.
And yet? As a daughter grieving her mother and then her father, I know how common this scenario really is and the importance of understanding how to navigate grief.
The vast majority of us will have to deal with the death of our parents – I just experienced it earlier than most. So now I’m writing about the ways I’ve seen my pain and done my best to tame it, because if I can just help one person dealing with something similar it will be worth the work.
Parents, Here’s What Actually Happens If You Die Without A Will
When my mother died, I was not responsible for any of the “death administrators”, but I had to do everything for my father. Luckily, I was a very pragmatic person, so we had gone through all of his finances beforehand (which bank accounts he had, how much was in, which direct debits were coming out of which accounts, etc.) and it saved me a huge amount of stress. .
To keep track, I kept a document open on my laptop that was added to daily, and I also had a notebook where I wrote down all the important information from numerous phone calls. I also recorded a lot of calls with an app on my phone, because I knew I’d pretty much forget everything the moment I hung up.
This is due to the shock. There are so many things you’re expected to be able to do, it all seems like a joke. But the most important legal practicalities to do are the following:
Making funeral decisions feels completely surreal. This person was alive just a few days ago and now someone is asking you about the colors of the wood in the coffin, but the sooner you get it organized and off the plate, the better. These decisions are a one time thing, which is a relief.
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Remember, you can ask for help with all of these decisions. At one point I was so overwhelmed when someone started pressuring me about what hymns to choose for my dad’s service that I asked a family friend (who knows his hymns) to give me a list of five and chose my three favorites. Same with the funeral readings – I knew I wanted to do my dad’s eulogy and I knew who should do the readings, but I didn’t know what, so I just asked them to make up their own minds.
This rings true for needing physical support during this time as well. Ask someone to accompany you
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