Do you know what more than half of the current U.S. population has in common with Aretha Franklin, Prince, Larry King, and Abe Lincoln when they died? No estate plan!

And do you know what sets apart the other half of the population? You guessed right. They’ve made sure that their legacy plans are in place and up to date to reflect their wishes. Talk about R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

You might think to yourself, “Well, I’m still young—I don’t need an estate plan yet. I have time.” Or “My family will figure it out—they’ve got this.” Or “I don’t have wealth like the rich and famous—these things don’t apply to me.”

You may be surprised to learn that not having an estate plan can have far-reaching and sometimes quite costly consequences. It could, dare I say, make doves cry. You ask how? Well, let’s talk about Prince.

When Prince tragically passed away in 2016, he was divorced and survived by a handful of siblings. Because he died without an estate plan, he not only left behind a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars but also a lot of confusion.

Now, years later, that estate is still unsettled. Hordes of lawyers have been working on his estate administration, racking up bills, arguing with each other, arguing with the heirs, arguing with consultants hired to advise on various estate matters, and filing purple blizzards of paperwork. And it will continue.

So what does that mean for you? Well, you don’t need to have hundreds of millions or a complex situation in order to need an estate plan. The same principle applies to everyone.

The main practical issue is determining who will control and handle our estate, our affairs, and our property. You want to be the one who decides who will manage your estate and to ensure that your last wishes are being carried out by people you know and trust.

Moreover, the nature of certain assets—for example, in Prince’s case, music rights as intellectual property and homes in multiple states—can prove tricky to divide among heirs, making precise stipulations in an estate plan that much more critical.

Another factor to consider is the emotional toll that a lack of preparation can have on loved ones. It’s difficult enough to absorb the shock of a significant loss, but to have to deal with the resulting administrative and legal hurdles without direction from the deceased loved one’s comprehensive estate plan compounds the pain and takes the focus away from the person who has passed on.

Aretha Franklin and Prince missed out on the opportunity to show everyone who and what mattered to them. In addition to aligning our financial and material possessions with our wishes and taking care of our loved ones, including animal companions, an estate plan defines and describes our personal values, life lessons, and hope for the world after we’re gone.

We work hard for our legacy. Why not preserve peace, reward our loved ones, and demonstrate our convictions and compassion? A will or other estate plan is important—after all, it’s your last love letter!

Ensure that your legacy carries forward beyond your lifetime. Provide for yourself, your loved ones, and your favorite charitable causes through your estate plan.


PETA offers free estate planning resources, and our legacy gift planning team is here to help assist you with creating your long-term plans and extending your compassion for animals into the future. Get in touch with us today!

Have you already made the kind decision to include PETA as a beneficiary of your estate plan? Please let us know so that we can thank you for your generous commitment and welcome you into our Augustus Club.