Prince Left No Will–And a Legal Morass for His Loved Ones

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

As I wrote yesterday, Prince’s death was both surprising and devastating. He was truly a great artist, a nice person and a musical genius. Apart from his fans, his death will have a huge image on large numbers of people, particularly everyone–from his employees to studio musicians to technicians–who relied on his business for their livelihoods.

Business owners like you, me and Prince (and yes, he was a business owner) should always know that our actions affect the lives of many. And they are also those most affected by our poor decisions–like not getting help or counseling. That was my point yesterday.

And then more news broke: Prince left no will!

By leaving no will, his immediate family (he had a sister), relatives, successors or any likely beneficiaries are now facing another big problem: Who’s going to divide up the potentially enormous assets of this successful musician and businessman. Yes, it has been reported that Prince had some financial challenges.

However, as like others who have prematurely passed before him, it is expected that his estate will only grow in value as his legacy continues on. But without there being a clear successor, it’s inevitable that lawsuits and arguments will soon follow. And because of this potential legal mess it seems likely this business–which again so many rely on–will struggle to make deals, re-invest assets, enter into contracts and fully maximize its assets.

This is bad and it’s avoidable. All of us should have wills and estate plans, particularly those of us who run businesses. It is not hard to do and you are never too young. It may cost a few thousand in legal fees. Or you can bootstrap it online. But you need to have something in writing that your successors can turn to. You never know what could happen. And if you suddenly disappear from the world, you are leaving your family, employees and all the others who depend on you and your business with not only sadness, but a huge amount of financial and legal headaches to sort it all out.

As business owners we have a responsibility to look after ourselves and all those who rely on us–both in our life and in death.

Otherwise, like Prince, we’re just creating problems for others.

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