Russ Cook & Associates, PC

Anniversary of Prince's death revives artist estate plan talk

The state of Tennessee is no stranger to entertainers. Nashville alone breeds some of the world's most talented and beloved musicians. The stars of Tennessee and successful entertainers throughout the country can earn a great deal of income, income that might continue to grow even after death. 

It is important for these big and sometimes everlasting earners to plan beyond their recording and touring schedules. They need to create unique estate plans that address not only their actual assets, but the future assets that may result from their creative works. Death might mean the end of earnings for some, but it can mean something more complicated for high-profile entertainers.

Last week marked the anniversary of the death of musical legend Prince. The estate situation he left behind serves as an example of how complex and emotional estate planning disputes can become when a proper plan doesn't exist. A lawsuit regarding the rights to Prince's unreleased music is pending, creating turmoil among the surviving family and former colleagues of the star.

Prince not only failed to leave behind direction about his intellectual property in terms of his unreleased music; he allegedly left behind no estate planning documents at all. While his death alone was a shock to the world, the reality that there was no will or trust left behind was shocking as well.

It is no surprise that disputes over the artist's estate are ongoing. Proper estate planning would likely have prevented what could be years and years of further controversy related to Prince's estate and his intellectual property. Who gets the value of his assets? Who has control of the unreleased music in "the vault?" Who can profit from his work?

Even for the most business-minded person estate planning can be unappealing.  Ask a creative soul (a person who lives and breathes music) to put a plan in writing regarding their assets and it can be a tough sell to get them to get those affairs in order. 

Are you an entertainer who is taking the time to think about your future? You work hard to turn your ideas into works of art. Sharing your creativity with the public takes heart and bravery. Add financial wisdom to your list of admirable qualities by creating an estate plan to protect your unique interests and the future interests of your family, friends and fans.

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