Florida Weekly Column

Prince and His Estate Plan, Formerly Known as a Will

Prince and His Estate Plan, Formerly Known as a Will

It was in the middle of a meeting when my colleague whispered to me that “Prince died.” What?

I gasped! Prince was an icon who rose to stardom while I was in college.
It seemed like yesterday that we witnessed this creative genius with no last name playing his heart out in a torrential tropical rain storm during the 2007 pop-charged Super Bowl XLI halftime show in Miami. In his inimitable style, he danced and jammed with not one, but four electric guitars. Cords and amplifiers were all over the Prince-symbol-shaped purple stage. He boogied around the electric lightning rods as if grooving in between the raindrops giving a performance that only the symbol and the man “formerly known as Prince” could do.

The commentators of the show winced words of caution fearing the worst knowing that he and his fly girl dancers could’ve easily been electrocuted that evening. Instead, he died a few weeks ago at age 57. The cause is not the matter, but what will become of his fortune and his music library is the biggest question.

Prince did not have a will. At stake is not only his fortune, his guitar collection, and his music, but his legacy.

Working at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I have met people of all ages and all circumstances from rock stars, retired CEOs, school teachers and housekeepers but the common thread is these people who come forward and begin their estate planning to include gifts to charity seek a certain peace of mind, and dare I suggest significance? We all want to know our lives mattered and if we cannot give as much today of our worldly goods, we can take the time now to plan for it.

In fact, most major gifts to charity are given through the estate via a will or a trust. And it is so easy to do! Depending on your plans, it could mean a simple will or a trust document created with an attorney, and a letter of request and direction that either the attorney or foundation can execute giving the foundation the detail held on file outlining exactly how the donor wishes their funds be used. Most of the time, these funds are endowed to create a revenue stream for charity forever.

The Community Foundation, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has hundreds of donors who have named the foundation as the stewards of their charitable giving in their legacy plans which is the current source of the over $70 million in endowment and the $551,000 granted out this year, for example, to local nonprofits serving our community’s greatest needs.

In 2011, Prince donated $250,000 to Eau Claire Promise Zone in Columbia, South Carolina, a citywide grassroots coalition of community partners committed to “whatever it takes” to ensure all of the city’s children are prepared to graduate from college and be successful in their career and in life. And in 2012 he partnered with Rebuild the Dream for a concert in Chicago to support the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of everyday people—from seniors to students, moms, dads, brothers and sisters—who come together to build strong vibrant communities and to fix our economy from the ground up.

Imagine what more he could’ve done with a plan. Now his assets are tied up in probate, much will go to the government in the form of taxes, and the rest to who the courts deem “rightful” heirs based simply on if they are considered a relative.

Charitable planning as part of the estate plan assures that the things you care about now will be here for a long time, after you are gone.

Local Trust and Estate Attorney Eric Gurgold, a friend of the foundation, said it best:
The moral of the story is that everybody should have an estate plan in place. A plan that carries out the desired distribution of their estate, names the proper people to be in charge of estate assets, creates trusts for beneficiaries who are young, disabled or otherwise impaired and saves taxes.

When it comes to putting in place an estate plan, don’t be a prince, be a king. And if we can help, please contact me at [email protected]

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

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