Phillips & Ingrum

The Legacy of Prince – When You Die Without A Will

By Grayson Cannon

Phillips-Ingrum-Headshots-15_finalIn a previous post I blogged about why it’s better to have a simple (well-drafted) Will than to die without one.  Recent news about the death of pop superstar Prince has illustrated the importance of leaving some kind of Will, no matter how simple.  It appears Prince may have left a number of half-siblings, and there is even a claim of a possible child, none of whom Prince was close to in life.  Some of these relatives may inherit his vast estate under Minnesota law to the exclusion of, or in addition to, his full sister Tyka with whom he reportedly had a close and continuing relationship.

So, what will happen to your estate if you die without a Will in Tennessee?  From what I have read thus far, Tennessee’s laws regarding intestate succession (which dictates where your worldly possessions go when you die without a Will) are fairly similar to Minnesota’s.

For example, under Tennessee’s laws of intestate succession, half-siblings and all children of the half-blood are treated the same as full-blooded relatives.  If one has a spouse, but no children, the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate.  Leaving behind a spouse and children will result in the estate being divided between the spouse and children by the spouse receiving one-half and the child one-half if there is one child; and the spouse receiving one-third and the remaining two-thirds divided among the children if there are multiple children.  If there are children but no spouse, the children will share equally.  If there are no spouse and no children but parents survive, the parents will divide the estate equally.  If there are no spouse, no children and no parents surviving, the estate is divided equally among the deceased’s siblings.  In all cases, if there is a relative described above who is pre-deceased but left surviving children, that  relative’s children will inherit what would have been their share (divided equally).

In this example, Prince might have desired that his estate be divided differently, based on what the media have thus far reported about his important life relationships.  He might have even wished to remember certain charities or friends in his estate planning, as he was reportedly devout in his Jehovah’s Witness faith and close to his community. But, because he left no Will, those persons and entities will receive nothing.

None of us can predict when we might pass away.  Prince was only 57 years old and appeared to be in the prime of his life.  Perhaps, if nothing else, his example will encourage those of you who have not taken this important step, to consider planning for the inevitable sooner rather than later.  Call our office if we can help you with wills or other needs.  We look forward to helping you!