12 May Wills and Prince
How sad that the world lost one of its most creative and generous artists recently when Prince died. It is also sad, and instructive, that Prince did NOT have a will, which is causing litigation, costs, expenses and waste, all because Prince did not leave a will which spelled out his wishes.
Most of us need only a simple will that clearly states a few things: who is the executor (or the person responsible for being in charge of getting the will probated); who will get what property that you own or have an interest in; who will be the trustee (person in charge of managing) any trust that arises; and, who will be the “back-ups” to each of the people identified above (in case they die or are incapable of acting? While additional people may need to be identified, these four categories of people cover most folks.
Let’s look at them one by one. The executor has the job of going to the courthouse, interacting with the clerk’s office, listing heirs, property, and other items, filing reports and otherwise “managing” the estate. Folks that are good with numbers and details are generally chosen, since the responsibilities can mount and a certain level of organization is needed to keep up. Most people ask the executor before naming them in a will, in order to have a ready and willing executor, rather than an unenthusiastic one. Trust is obviously a large component, as well.
Identifying people who get property and how much or what share is fairly easy. However, some will-writers like to give a “percentage” or specific fraction of the deceased’s estate. Just be aware that someone will have to figure out what the “total” value of the estate is, in order to apply the percentage and come up with each person’s share.
A trustee usually is only when “minors” or children who are not 18 years old are the recipients of property. The logic is that since the child is not an adult, then a trustworthy adult – the “trustee” – should manage the property until the child reached adulthood. Sometime two trustees are named, in an effort to keep them honest.
In the event that one of the named “helpers” dies before the will-writer, or is otherwise not able to do their job, most folks name “backup” people. They should also consent, in order to not create headaches and uncertainty upon the death of the will writer. I hope that these comments are helpful and note my sorrow at the passing of Prince. If you have questions or other comments, please contact me at www.paullinlaw.com, or (804) 423-7423. Peace.