By Lucy Williams on May 24, 2016

If you’ve been traveling in space or don’t care to listen to the popular media, you may have missed that Prince died suddenly at the age of 57 on April 21, 2016. If you don’t know who Prince is, that’s a story for a different day!

One of the most important things to note about this sad event is that apparently he had no estate plan—no will, no trust...nothing. How can that be?

He was a mega-star, uber-wealthy and was surrounded by an entourage of professional advisors. Certainly there were people in his inner circle who could have provided sound advice, or could have connected him with financial and estate planning experts.

Oddly, this situation is not new. Seems like people who we think have their estate plan taken care of, for some reason, don’t. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sonny Bono, Michael Jackson and Abraham Lincoln all died without wills. Why is that?

As a Trust Officer with many years of experience dealing with wills, trusts and estates—as well as the lack thereof, I’ve formed some of my own unscientific theories, based strictly on my observations.

An initial observation is that, for the most part, people think that if they create a will and an estate plan, they’re admitting that they’re going to die. Well, from what I’ve heard and seen...we’re all going to die at some point in time. We don’t like to admit it or even think about it, but it’s a truth that we can’t escape. We might as well face the facts and legally document where we’d like all of our earthly possessions to end up, and who will be in charge of overseeing their distribution.

Another one of my unscientific observations is that we all like to be in control—of everything!  When my daughter was a toddler—a very independent one at that—her favorite saying was, “Me, do, mommy. Me do by myself.” From a very early age we begin to assert our desire to control everything around us. Some more than others, for sure, but we all like to have some control of our lives and decisions affecting us.

That’s why I find it baffling that so many people die without an estate plan. For most of us who relish controlling every aspect of our lives, dying without an estate plan is like completely giving up control and not caring what happens to our assets when we’re no longer here.

So, when it comes to the Princes, Michael Jacksons, and Abraham Lincolns of the world, who have every reason to have an estate plan in place, maybe there is a sense of complacency that somebody has already handled it for them…but hasn’t.

On the other hand, some people say, “I truly don’t care…let my family deal with it.”  But, for many, what a mess!  Sure, the state you reside in has an estate plan for you in their probate statutes, but again, they’re deciding…not you or your family members.

A will and/or a trust are simply your marching orders for your Executor and/or Trustee to carry out when you’re no longer around to express your wishes. It lifts a burden from your family and ensures that what you want to have happen, happens.

Bottom line, by having an estate plan in place, you have the ultimate power over your life and assets…even when you’re no longer here to tell people what to do. Now, that’s will...power.

Contact me, Lucy Williams, or one of our other advisors, at 800.285.7878 to get to work on your will or estate plan!