We blogged in January on the wills of David Bowie and Reginald Hill, and the importance of good estate planning for artistic legacies.
With the sudden and untimely death of Prince last week – and the subsequent announcement by sister Tyka Nelson that he died without leaving a will – succession law finds itself once again in the spotlight.
Prince’s intestacy raises many legal dilemmas, of considerable significance to his fans as well as his family. Without a will, the question of who should succeed to the singer’s estate – famously said to include a ‘vault’ of unreleased material, of unknown size – immediately becomes more complex, with the risk of a protracted, costly administration and potential disputes greatly increased.
While sprawling rockstar mansions and iconic musical legacies may be the stuff of dreams to most people, the reality of dealing with the loss of a loved one without the certainty and security of a will can be gruelling, and is all too common: recent estimates suggest that only a third of people in Scotland have a valid, up to date will.
Intestacy can have serious consequences for cohabiting couples (who have no automatic rights to inherit under statute), guardianship of bereaved children, inheritance tax liability and, increasingly, the recovery of digital assets. The moderate up-front cost, time and effort required to put a will in place will almost always outweigh the risks of leaving nothing at all.