Take It From Prince Set Up Your Will Now

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It seems shocking that legendary artist and musical icon Prince left this earthly realm so recently — and without a will in place. The great saga of his life on stage will unfortunately continue to play out for years after his death in what is sure to be a long and ugly battle between his living relatives over his assets.

Prince was a religious man, which makes it all the more surprising that he hadn’t detailed what should happen to his earthly possessions when he died. Yet at 57, Prince was in the majority. Around 51% of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 don’t have a will in place, and 64% of the general public doesn’t have one, either. Why?

Perhaps it’s something to do with a willful ignorance of our own mortality. Perhaps it’s simply the terminology. Wills, along with estate planning and the like, fall under a category of law called “Elder Law,” which is not a word one always necessarily wants to identify with.

However, getting a grips on elder law is important, no matter your age. Even if you’re under 40, you should be planning your will. The unfortunate truth is that, like Prince, we may be gathered here only for a short time to get through this thing called life.

So what should you know about setting up a will?

First of all, you don’t necessarily need to set up a meeting with a will lawyer or estate planning attorney — at least not right away. You can find a standard template will through many online resources, which will be the first thing a lawyer hands you anyway.

Elder law also involves things like guardianship for your children and end-of-life care — in other words, what you want to happen to you in case the worst happens to you. Look into the individual power of attorney requirements set up by your state so that you can know someone will act on your behalf in case you are unable to speak for yourself. Having decisions written out on paper like this can save your family a lot of hardship and grief.

It’s OK to party like it’s 1999. But be prepared. We never know when the clock is going to strike 2000: party over, oops, out of time.

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