Well, they were certainly both mega-stars and monster musical legends. But there is more. They were both mega millionaires but neither one of them did any estate planning, nothing. Neither Prince nor Aretha had a will or a trust. They both passed away leaving their massive estates to be decided by feuding relatives who will be tied up in courts for years to come. This is just astonishing. Even more so because my understanding is that they both keep tight reins on their business arrangements and finances. How did they let this happen? I suspect we will never know.

For most people estate planning is surprisingly simple and very effective. Most people do not even need trusts. Trusts have a valid place in estate planning but very few people actually need them. Most of us can have a very effective estate plan by having in place joint or payable on death financial accounts, named beneficiaries on life insurance policies and IRA’s, joint survivorship or “transfer on death” deeds for real estate, and the proper titling of motor vehicles.

We all want to have estates like Prince or Aretha Franklin but none of us want to leave our loved ones with the years of litigation that their relatives have.