Years Later, Prince Estate Struggles

Its been four years since the Artist Formerly Known As Prince passed away, and growing issues continue with the settlement of his estate.


What’s wrong with a reported $300 Million estate and inadequate Planning?

  • Over $45 Million already spent – so far – sorting things out
  • Four years-and counting – of publicity, chaos, and waste
  • Predictably, Comerica Bank accused of mismanagement by people wanting money
  • Comerica must now defend its position, in addition to continuing to fulfill its duties


Purple Rain is a musical masterpiece. The opportunity to create an estate planning masterpiece has been lost. As I’ve said in the past, because estate planning isn’t fun, it’s easy to kick that can down the road. The result, when the plan’s needed but missing, is the need for many more people to pick up the pieces and perform the damage control.


I’ve been involved, as a member of the estate planning team, in executing and completing a plan in less than a week. Because time was short the options were limited. The client passed away two days after signing all the documents, but the result was way better than no plan at all. Expenses were minimized, friction was eliminated (the beneficiaries still liked each other when it was over) and none of the details became public knowledge.

I’ve also been involved, as a member of the estate planning team, in complex estate plans with lots of moving parts that needed the better part of a year to put together properly. The end result is a masterpiece, but it takes a lot of time. Afterwards, the clients are pleased but no one’s ever described the process as fun.

Ultimately, a big part of the issue is human nature.

I have no idea how long it took Prince to complete Purple Rain. Probably less than a year, and it had to be both gratifying and fun. Imagine this hypothetical conversation the day after with his most trusted and persistent advisor:

Advisor: “That’s going to be your signature song, and it’s going to generate another $100 Million in revenue. Now can we do the planning to protect all that for you and your family?”

Prince: “I’m tired. How long will that take?”

Advisor: “About a year.”

Prince: “That’s no fun. Tell you what. I’m going to take it on the road and have a lot of fun with it. You remind me again at the end of the last concert. Maybe it’ll be fun then.”

Currently, we’re at four years, $45 Million and counting, and still no fun.

This doesn’t have to be the way it is. The best outcome is using Prince as a catalyst to encourage our friends and our clients to enjoy the music and help them avoid a similar result.

The insurance world can be difficult to navigate. Without a clear understanding of their current plan, it’s difficult to be certain that your clients have the right coverage. If you’d like to take a closer look, you’ve come to the right place. We can answer your life insurance questions and provide the clarity you need to sleep easy. Join our newsletter today. To contact us, click here.

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