What Prince Can Teach You About Personal Finance
When it came to his music, Prince was one in a million (okay, a billion).
But in one other – very important – aspect of his life, he was just, plain average.
Like 55% of American adults, according to LexisNexis, Prince didn’t have a will. The numbers for minorities – 68% of black adults, 73% of Hispanics – are even higher. A PwC survey even found that 30% of people with wealth greater than $500,000 don’t have a will.
Why are the numbers so high? There are so many reasons.
We don’t like to think about the fact that we’re going to die, someday. We actually don’t think we’re going to die (ahh, optimism). We’ll do it tomorrow. Or next week. Or the next time we travel. And then we don’t.
In one sense, let’s give Prince a pass here. He may have set his relatives up for an unpleasant to-do as they scramble over his reported $300 million fortune. But at least he didn’t leave any children behind. A will is the only document that allows you to name guardians for minor children.
But there other reasons you should have one, as well.
You Care About Your Stuff
No matter how much or how little stuff you have, chances are you care about it at least enough to want some say over what happens to it if something happens to you. You may also want to choose who will be in charge of making sure your jewelry/pottery collection/first editions make it into the right hands. That person is your executor. A will allows you to name one.
There Are Causes You Want To Support
In the days since Prince’s death, there have been a number of stories about the fact that he was a quiet, but powerful charitable force, donating millions to schools, thousands to a local library, and putting technology in the hands of kids who wouldn’t otherwise have had access to it. He would have had the opportunity to support this work through his estate – or perhaps his sister, who has emerged as the one seeking control, will do the same. But there’s no guarantee. You can use a will to guarantee that at least some of your money and assets will flow to causes you believe in.
It’s Neither Expensive Nor Complicated
The easiest way to get a will these days is to use an online resource like WillMaker (you can find the software for $39.99) , or go through Nolo.com or LegalZoom.com, where prices will range from $34 to $69. It’s fine to go this route as long as your financial life isn’t complicated – and you’re not looking to cut someone out of your will (for anything you think will be contested, go to a lawyer). Just make sure to have it properly witnessed when you sign it. You can also – of course – have one drawn up by an estate planning attorney. The cost for a full basic estate plan (including a living will, durable powers of attorney for healthcare and finance, and a will) starts at about $500 to $1,000 (depending on your location).
And if you’ve already done all of this – good for you. Now put a reminder in your calendar to revisit it every three years.