A Note from Christine
takes a lot to shock me...
... and Prince dying without an estate plan was DFEINITELY
one of those things.
The brilliant artist was such a control freak
over his music and
legacy; so much so that he fought the transition to
internet-based music sales
and digital download access every step of the way.
So why didn't he have a Will or Trust to protect
his valuable music
catalogue and his estate?
Obviously it wasn't a lack of money. He had plenty.
It wasn't that he didn't have access to a good
attorney. He could work with
the cream of the crop in his state.
So what was the problem?
Basically it was the same thing that I see happen in
he suffered a complete mental block about
You see, it's hard to think about a time when
you may be sick,
incapacitated, or pass away... let alone plan
And when you find yourself needing help in the middle
of one of these life
crises, it can sometimes feel like the very
professionals you need to work
with (lawyers, CPAs, financial advisors, etc.) are
just preying on your
family's wealth and taking advantage you in a weak
The result? The individual or family does
nothing. Just like Prince.
In fact, you and Prince might have more in
common than you realize in
Please take the time to read the feature article
below. It's the legacy that I
hope you will gleam from Prince's life and how
you can learn from his biggest
mistakes to better protect your family and your
Have a great month,
P.S. Reports recently surfaced that actor
George Lopez had to loan
Prince’s family money because all of his
assets are now tied up in
probate. See, when you die without an estate
plan, your kids or other
family members who count on you for support are
not able to access the
inheritance you’ve left behind for them
for months... or even
YEARS. The Probate process is so long
and unpredictable that you can
literally bankrupt your family in this
“waiting period.” BUT
probate is entirely optional... if you have a
trust you can avoid it
altogether! Why wouldn’t you want that
benefit for your loved ones? Some
food for thought...
The REAL Reason Price Didn't Have a Will... And
Why YOU Might Have the Same Problem, Too
Following the shocking death of Prince, folks
across the country were equally shocked to
learn that the musical genius died
without a Will or Trust in place to deal with
the distribution of his fortune
and valuable music catalogue when he passed
Dying without a Will in his home state of
Minnesota now means that
Prince’s wealth will likely be
distributed among his six siblings... but
only after more than half likely gets
distributed to his other
newfound family member, Uncle Sam. Yikes!
Obviously it wasn’t a lack of money
stopping Prince from creating an
estate plan to protect his assets and wishes if
something happened to him. He
had plenty of cash and access to high-powered
lawyers in his own home state
and across the country.
So what was the problem?
Well, according to a news report from TMZ, Prince
was afraid to work with an attorney to
get his affairs in order.
He bounced from advisor to advisor and
professional to professional out of
fear of being taken advantage of.
He didn’t want to subject himself to
And he feared being preyed upon by
professionals with ulterior motives.
Before you write Prince off as crazy or
paranoid, believe it or not, this is
exactly what stops average families
from getting their affairs in
Maybe they don’t have millions of
dollars in the bank and an impressive
music catalogue like Prince did, but they
hold on tightly (and rightfully so)
to the money and assets they do
have... much of which they’ve
worked hard for decades to acquire.
It’s only natural, then, that when
faced with a crisis such as an
illness, incapacity, the blending of a
family, a divorce, a lawsuit,
whatever, a general fear tends to
rise up in folks that the attorneys
they are meeting with to help them create a
plan to protect their assets and
families might be taking advantage of them or
simply don’t have their
best interests in mind.
Perhaps they have sticker shock at the basic
cost of a Will or Trust. Or they
may feel like the attorney or advisor is just
preying on them during a weak
moment in their life.
In any of these scenarios, what ends up
happening when someone has these
feelings is that they freeze from the fear
and end up doing NOTHING. Just like
As an estate planning attorney, I’m not
going to say that these fears
are completely unfounded. There are bad eggs
in every bunch, including
attorneys and financial advisors.
But the fallout of not protecting your family
with a proper estate plan does
not outweigh the risk and fear of being taken
for a ride! If you want to be
certain that everything you’ve worked
so hard for actually goes to your
loved ones and not the government when you
are gone, you’ve got
If you want to make sure your kids are raised
by only the people YOU WANT if
you unexpectedly pass away,
you’ve got to plan.
If you desire to keep your life’s work
safe from nursing homes,
creditors, predators, lawsuits, and divorce,
YOU’VE GOT TO
You even need a plan to ensure your medical
wishes are honored as you want.
Here’s another area where Prince likely
dropped the ball.
As a Jehovah’s Witness, he was opposed
to any form of blood transfusion.
But did he have that legally documented?
Because if he did not, and was
incapacitated in the hospital for any length
of time, his next-of-kin sister
might have decided to go ahead with a
transfusion. And it would have been
perfectly legal, even though it was against
everything he believed in.
I hope I’ve made it clear that
you NEED to have an estate plan.
Every adult does. It’s not an
And the good news is that you can
take steps now to AVOID
being taken advantage of or sold
products or services that you really
don’t need, whether by an attorney
or other type of financial advisor.
The key is to start your
planning BEFORE a crisis strikes.
My best advice would be to start
interviewing attorneys and local
professionals while you are still
healthy and have the mental capacity to make
your wishes known. Your end-goal should
be to compile a team of advisors that
you know, like, and trust to support
you and your family during all of
Don’t be afraid to compare
services, compare costs (note: cheaper does
NOT always mean better in this area),
and even compare office procedures for
each attorney. Ask tough questions like:
How do you bill? Is it hourly or on a
flat fee basis? Will I get a bill for
every phone call, email, or fax to
What happens if I call two years
later with questions about my estate plan?
How will you accommodate me?
How do you ensure that my plan
continues to work as my life and the law
changes through the years? (If you
don’t keep your documents updated,
they won’t work!)
What happens if you close your office
or die? What happens to my file?
Will you coordinate the planning
efforts we are embarking on with my other
advisors so everyone is on the same
How do you handle updates to my plan
in the future?
What happens if my goals or
circumstances in my life change? What if I get
sick or move into a nursing home? Are
there trigger provisions that will allow
us to deal with a crisis in my plan?
How will you support my family when I
If you take the time to find a
professional that can answer these questions to
your satisfaction, that has as great
reputation, and is someone that you seem
to “jive with”
before there is a crisis in your life,
you will feel much more
confident and secure to lean on that
professional during trying times that
may arise in the future.
Sadly, Prince did not follow through in
this area, but you can.
Begin to build your team of advisors,
right now... at this stage of your life.
It doesn’t matter how much money
you have, whether you are young or old,
if you have kids or not. Start to build
your “A” team. Make it
your goal to spare your family from the
court costs, taxes, public scrutiny,
and fighting they would otherwise face
if something happened to you.
Take your time to do “meet and
greets” and interviews with area
advisors. Go to every free workshop
that is offered in your area to find that
person that you connect with.
And once you feel comfortable with your
team, make the plan. Legally protect
your assets, your family, and make your
wishes known. Don’t ever let
fear stop you from doing the right
thing by your loved ones when you can start
NOW to take concrete steps that
mitigate any risk or loss of control.
You are worth it, and so is your
family. Let this be the real legacy (beyond
the music) that Prince leaves behind to
you and your loved ones today.
Estate Planning Essentials: "How to Use Wills & Trusts to
Protect Your Assets, Wishes and the People You
June 16th, 2016
Executive Offices of Torrance - (Refreshments Served)
21151 S. Western Avenue, Suite 153 * Torrance, CA
To Reserve Your Spot for this FREE Workshop click SIGN
About Christine Brown
Christine received her bachelor's degree from U.C. Santa Barbara and
is a 1992 graduate of the
University of the
McGeorge School of Law.
She is formerly a partner in the
law firm of
Lebetsamer & Brown, LLP.
In January 2002, she opened her own
concentrates solely in the
area of elder law. Her special
emphasis is on
long-term care planning
and the concerns of the elderly,
in estate planning, trust
Christine is a member of the
Law Attorneys (NAELA),
the South Bay Bar Probate and
well as other
community organizations concerned
adults. As an active
member of her community and State
various Superior Court Probate
public with legal
issues. She works regularly with
Nursing Home Reform
("CANHR") and the Los Angeles
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