Predicting the future is tricky, but here’s a prophecy you can bank on: We’re all gonna die.
If that sounds bleak, there’s a point in bringing it up—you really need a will! If you don’t document your wishes about your stuff while you’re still drawing breath, somebody else will decide those things for you when you’re gone (and it’s usually decided by a stranger).
When you die without a will, not even fame and fortune are enough to keep your assets from being seized by various parties. In fact, being rich and famous can complicate the issue even further, as some of the following examples prove.
In 2016 the world-famous rocker died at the young age of 57, surprising millions of fans, not to mention his sister and five half-siblings. Sadly, Prince never got around to writing a will for his $300 million estate. Although his assets are likely to be divided among his surviving siblings, there’s no guarantee it will shake out that way. That’s because he’s still raking in massive posthumous income, and hundreds of people have already filed legal claims to being Prince’s half-siblings. A court order to have those claims DNA tested could delay the distribution of Prince’s wealth for years.
The 16th U.S. president was famous for his political will, but he never bothered to write a personal will.
When Lincoln was killed April 15, 1865, his lack of a will nearly made his family’s lives even worse by leaving them penniless. Fortunately his son Robert sought help from family friends, who were able to arrange a prompt legal settlement for Lincoln’s widow and two surviving children. Non-presidential families aren’t always so lucky.
Hendrix was a guitar legend in his own time, but his untimely death in 1970 at the age of 27 has wrought unending strife for control of his unplanned estate. The scramble for legal rights to both Hendrix’s money and his music has continued for more than 40 years. The saga of the Hendrix estate includes many layers of conflicting claims among his children, his father Al, and his brother Leon. After decades of legal wrangling, Al secured most rights to his famous son’s estate in 1995. But when Al died in 2002, surviving children Leon and Janie Hendrix began a new feud over their brother’s estate. Much of the heartache could have been prevented by a short conversation with a lawyer prior to Jimi’s death.
To have someone other than a friend or family member decide what’s happening to your hard-earned assets would be tragic. You don't want this to happen. Even if you're single, get a will right now!
Don’t be like one of the 64% of Americans who told Forbes.com they have no will. The need for a will is a fact of life you’re better off facing than ignoring. There are plenty of easy ways to get your estate plan in writing, both online or in person with an attorney.