His estate is estimated to be worth $300 million or more. Without a Will, in accordance with the laws of Minnesota, his home state, his Estate will be taxed at nearly 50%, the balance shared among his sister and five half-siblings. Maybe that suited him just fine.
Yet the life he lived suggests otherwise.
To protect his creation, his music and his legacy, Prince famously changed his “name” to a glyph, an unpronounceable symbol, to wrest control of his art from his contractually bound record label. A savvy legal end-around move, which ultimately gave him rights to his new music, to do with as he pleased.
Quietly and without fanfare, Prince donated millions in charitable contributions supported causes from cancer to creative arts, supporting at-risk and disadvantaged youth, hunger…organizations, schools, cultural facilities, even right here in Ohio.
These are just two example which suggest Prince had a vision for his legacy. Creations he wanted to both preserve and share. And that his vast wealth had a purpose, to promote the advancement of people touched by the charities he donated to.
Maybe Prince would have been perfectly content to know that his sister, three half-brothers and two half-sisters will be the named heirs. And if legal battles arise, if there is sibling in-fighting, if the untold value of yet to be released music comes into play, if his home is razed or turned into a musical center for children, maybe he wouldn’t have cared.
Prince appeared to live a life of independent thought and strong engagement.
Was Prince stupid? No. Ill-advised perhaps. Human in his avoidance of acknowledging his inevitable mortality.
The lesson? Even though few of us will have an immense financial legacy, there is a reason this document is called a Will. It is our Wishes. Bequests. Acknowledgement of someone or some cause which made the world better. We can decide to simplify the lives of those we leave behind. It is our final bow, and our final thank you.