Recently, the singer “Prince” passed away. Now, you may, or may not be a fan of him or his music, but it’s what is happening after his death that caused quite a stir. You see, Prince’s net worth was estimated around $300 million, not to mention the millions of dollars in royalties he is earning since his passing – and it looks like he didn’t have a will.

Prince was not married, he did not have any children, and his parents are no longer alive. So that leaves his siblings to fight over his fortune. He has one full blood sibling and a five half siblings who are all looking for a piece of the pie. It’s an unfortunate mess, which could have been easily avoided, but sadly this happens way too often.

People work their whole lives, save diligently, only to leave it all with no plan in place. Unfortunately, there are many people who die near broke or in heavy debt – but relatives aren’t fighting for those responsibilities. No, it’s often the greedy ones looking for a quick payday that go to battle. People are always willing to look after an estate, as long as they benefit from the financial windfall.

The general rule of thumb is this. If you pass away with no will, it would first go to your wife, then if she has died, it would go to your children. If you do not have children, or if they have died as well, then it would pass to your parents. Now if your parents have passed, then it would pass to your siblings. After that, good ‘ol Uncle Sam could possibly be the recipient of your fortune.

Again, whether you like Prince or not, you can learn from him. Don’t leave your fortune and legacy to chance. Don’t assume your family will be civil. When it comes to “free” money, being civilized often isn’t even in the picture. The truth is, very few people are prepared to handle a sudden inheritance with financial maturity. They often don’t take into account the desire of the deceased. Although, maybe they don’t really know what the desire and passion was; and it’s obviously too late to ask now.

Instead, make sure your voice is heard even after you are gone. Let everyone know where the money should go and what your intentions were. Did you plan to leave money to a charity? Did you want it going to someone or someplace other than who the government decides can stake claim? The best way to make this happen is by having a will. Also, keep in mind that, like Prince, waiting until you are “old(er)” to make a will, may mean you don’t have the chance to write one.

You can work hard your whole life to build a strong financial foundation for the future generation, only to have it all wiped away simply because there was lack of direction. Instead, leave a legacy that can live far beyond anything you can imagine.

Mark Etting

Author Mark Etting

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