It was a tragic day for music lovers everywhere when Prince died. It has been a nightmare, however, trying to divide his estate. If Prince had made a will before his untimely death, the process of splitting up his assets would have been a far simpler one than it ended up being. While that circumstance is an unfortunate one, we can learn from this, and apply what we learn here to our own lives.
What mistakes did Prince make that we can avoid?
Prince did not have a will written out: “In addition to tangible assets – money in the bank, real property – Prince left music rights and the value inherent in his name and likeness.”
Six years and tens of millions of dollars in legal fees later, the heirs and the IRS finally came to terms in January of this year, agreeing on the final value estimation to be $156.4 million. During the time they were taking to make this decision, however, there were some changes. Prince’s half-brother died in 2019, and he did leave a will. That will open the door for new and unrelated parties to make claims against the estate. It is only now that the process of distributing Prince’s vast estate can finally begin.
While most of us probably don’t have a fortune of assets quite like Prince did, we still have valuables and important items, not to mention any money we leave behind, that we want to make sure stays with our families instead of the State. Or perhaps some of us have been the ones left to deal with the chaos of having a loved one pass away. The process of having to deal with our loved one’s assets, their favorite things, and their money can be extremely difficult emotionally, and it can take a long time if done without an expert.
Four instances that show you need a probate lawyer
The process of sorting out our loved one’s assets, debts, or wills is called a probate. Every estate goes throught ht probate process, but if a person dies intestate – meaning without a will – that process can become much more complicated. Either way, you want an experienced Chattanooga probate litigation attorney to help you. We not only handle all the paperwork, and sort through all the assets and debts that were left behind by your loved one, but we can address any contests or concerns that may arise in the event there are disputes regarding the distribution of assets.
There are four questions you need to ask when dealing with probate:
- Is there a will? If there is a will, great. That makes things easier as it should dictate who is made executor, and how the assets are handled. Complex estates, however, have complex estate plans, often involving multiple beneficiaries, trusts, and charitable giving requests. A probate lawyer will sort that out. If there is no will, then a probate lawyer is absolutely necessary to ensure that creditors are paid, and that the estate is divided by the letter of the law.
- Do you know what’s included in the assets? There is a lot to a person’s life. Real estate and savings accounts – trusts and life insurance policies… So on and so forth. Then you have your grandmother’s recipe book or your grandfather’s clip tie. These items may not mean much monetarily, but they can be priceless to us sentimentally. When going over assets of the deceased, it could raise tension amongst family members over who should get what, especially if there is no will. A probate lawyer can help to mediate conflict in these situations by providing impartial advice and counsel.
- Do you know how much the assets are worth? If the decedent left behind substantial assets – art collections, real estate, a hefty retirement portfolio, etc. – they must be valued correctly. This can require outside assistance from an appraiser or financial planner. Not only can we recommend such experts to our clients, but we also offer guidance about how family members can address the sale of such assets.
- Can your family civilly divide the assets? Our families can be difficult to deal with on a good day, much less during a stressful time such as the death of a loved one. When there is no will, however, even the most amicable families can start to fight. You may also find people coming out of the woodwork, as it were, to make a claim on the assets from the estate. As attorneys, we can handle this for you.
Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law are here to work hard for you. We consult with financial experts to make sure everything is valued appropriately, that all debts are paid, and that the State does not take everything. We are your first line of defense when the will is contested, and can work on behalf of your loved one to ensure his or her wishes are met.
It is never easy to go through the death of a loved one. Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law can handle the complexities of dividing the estate, and will work hard to make sure this process is as easy and stress free for you as possible. Call us at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation with a Chattanooga probate litigation lawyer. Serving Chattanooga, Cleveland, and all of Tennessee.
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