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Prince, Tupac, And Snoop Dogg: 5 Top Musical Planning Mistakes

Prince died without a will. So did Tupac Shakur, Bob Marley, and many other legendary musicians. Snoop Dogg doesn't even want a will.  Prince 2

The question is: Why?

It seems like such a basic concept; everyone needs a will. Otherwise the laws of the state you live in determine who receives your assets and controls your legacy after you die. Without a will, you have no say in what happens, and the chances of a family fight increase dramatically.

Even though a will is relatively simple to create, studies consistently show that between 60% and two-thirds of adult Americans don't have a will. All states recognize a "holographic" will, which is one in your own hand-writing. They are perfectly valid as long as a couple basic conditions are met. This is not to say they are perfect by any means, but usually better than nothing. And most lawyers can create a basic will for a few hundred dollars or even less.

Even when an estate is modest is size, dying intestate -- without a will -- is never a good idea. So why don't more adults have wills -- including a surprising number of the extremely-wealthy?

These musical superstars highlight important lessons about why so many people fail to create a will before they die:

1. Prince:  Didn't Trust Professionals

The artist originally known, then formerly known, and then known again as Prince, reportedly developed a deep distrust of professionals, including lawyers.  He felt he had been burned earlier in his career by signing legal documents, so a stream of professionals was unable to convince Prince Rogers Nelson to sign important legal documents like a will.

The result?  His heirs and his legacy are in for trouble with what will likely be an expensive and drawn-out court fight over his vast fortune and musical legacy.

The first battle over the Prince Estate will be to determine who Prince's heirs actually are.  This morning, a man named Carlin Q. Willliams filed the first official paternity claim, based on his mother's affidavit saying she met Prince in July of 1976.  One thing led to another, and nine months later, Carlin was born.  A DNA test will come next, based on blood samples already preserved from Prince's body.

This paternity claim is just the beginning of the long road for the Prince Estate, trying to determine who should receive Prince's money.  If Prince had done a simple will, his instructions would have dictated who received what.  Paternity tests would not have been necessary.

Sadly, Prince's distrust of professionals means that a large chunk of his fortune will be spent paying legions of professionals while his heirs (both actual and potential) try to sort out the mess he left behind.

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Celebrity Legacies: Conflicts Plagued Tupac Shakur Before And After Death

Tupac Shakur was well-known for his "Thug" image, his rap prowess, and his many Tupac Shakur's estateconflicts -- leading up to the tragic shooting that took his life at age 25. So should anyone be surprised at the high number of legal battles involving Tupac Shakur's estate? Or that Shakur could continue to be a pioneer in rap music, even years after his death?  Tupac-Shakur

This is installment #17 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.

Tupac Shakur came to fame in large part due to his battles with police, inspiring lyrics in his first solo release so violent that Dan Quayle publicly denounced them -- building Shakur's "Thug" image in the process. In the same time frame, he was arrested five times for violent crimes, leading to numerous criminal charges and civil lawsuits, culminating in a confrontation during which he was shot multiple times. The very next day, Tupac was sentenced to prison for molestation.

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Celebrity Legacies: James Dean Estate Has A Cause

James Dean was the iconic rebel without a cause.  The James Dean Estate, on the other hand, has been driven by a cause -- maximizing the value of his image and likeness.  But was it taken too far when his heirs sued Twitter?  James Dean

This is installment #16 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts.  See other articles in the series here.

Perhaps no Hollywood legend has lasted so long, and left such an impact, as James Dean.  After dying in a tragic car crash at age 24, in 1955, Dean continued to appear among the top of highest earning deceased celebrities year after year, including being in the top ten as recently as 2012, when his estate earned about five million dollars.  Not bad for actor who only starred in three major films.

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Celebrity Legacies: No Easy Ride For Dennis Hopper's Estate

When is a divorce more than just a divorce?  When famed actor Dennis Hopper battled through an ugly divorce against his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, the battle was more about Dennis Hopper's estate than anything else.  So perhaps no one should be surprised that the war turned uglier once Dennis died.  Easy-rider-dennis-hopper

This is installment #15 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts.  See other articles in the series here.

The Easy Rider star had anything but an easy ride during the last few months of his life.  He passed away from cancer at age 73, smack-dab in the middle of his divorce war with Victoria, who was actually six years younger than Dennis Hopper's oldest daughter.

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Celebrity Legacies: Aaron Spelling Left Behind Massive Fortune & A Broken Family

What would it be like to grow up in a 123-room mansion in a swanky Los Angeles suburb, rubbing elbows with celebrities, and buying anything you want?  Sounds pretty great -- unless it was all taken away from you as an adult.  As Tori Spelling wrote in her autobiography, it's not easy going from having a silver spoon in your mouth to a plastic one.   How-rich-is-Aaron-Spelling

This is installment #13 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.

Aaron Spelling was one of the most successful television producers ever, masterminding such hits such as Charlie's AnglesBeverly Hills 90210Dynasty, and The Love Boat.  When Spelling died after a severe stroke in 2006, at 83 years old, he left behind a fortune worth an estimated $500 million at the time.  He owned the largest house in all of Los Angeles County.  The home, known as the Spelling Manor, was where Aaron and his second wife, Candy, moved in the late 1980's with their children, teenage daughter Tori and son Randy.

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Celebrity Legacies: Blurred Lines Surround Marvin Gaye Estate

There's nothing like a hit song to keep heirs dancing down the road to the bank -- even when that song wasn't written, composed, or sung by the celebrity singer who died.  Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke

The heirs of Marvin Gaye hit it big with a judgment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copyright infringement based on their chart-topping song Blurred Lines ... but will the  victory stand up on appeal?  And what exactly does this mean for the Marvin Gaye Estate?

This is installment #13 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.

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Celebrity Legacies: Marlon Brando's Estate Marred by Dozens of Lawsuits

Unquestionably, Marlon Brando was one of the leading actors of the 20th century.  The well-known Godfather was always in firm control ... until it came to his estate that is.  Marlon_Brando_The_Wild_One-225x300

This is installment #12 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.

Marlon Brando never followed convention.  He won his Oscar for Best Actor in 1973 for The Godfather, but Brando rejected the award as a protest to the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry.  Too bad he failed to follow the norms when it came to estate planning.

In part due to questions about his true intentions as expressed in his will and trust, Marlon Brando’s estate was involved in more than two dozens lawsuits by 2009 — five years after his death.  He passed away on July 1, 2004, at 80 years of age, suffering from a host of ailments including dementia and lung failure.

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