Prince's death, at the age of 57, feels like we have lost one of our musical icons long before his time. His musical genius and showmanship were unquestioned. As were his business acumen and efforts to protect the property rights inherent in his magnificent creations.
However, it would appear that Prince died without executing a Last Will and Testament. This means that he will join other famous musicians, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain and Sonny Bono, who also did not have Wills. Like these other musicians, the state (in Prince’s case, Minnesota) will substitute its wishes for how Prince’s estate will be distributed for Prince’s own wishes.
Everyone has a Will… sort of. If you don’t put down your own wishes in writing, something still has to be done with your estate. Every state has what is called an “intestate statute.” This statute sets forth a method for distributing your estate if you do not have a formal Will. However, because of the generic nature of these statutes, there is almost a guarantee that the people or charities you want to inherit your estate will not do so in the manner you would have wanted.
As the Righteous Brothers sang in Rock 'n Roll Heaven, Prince has joined "a hell of a band,” but may have left a legacy that, no doubt, he would have preferred to have conformed to his wishes, whatever those wishes may have been.