What do Prince, John Denver, Tupac Shakur and Amy Winehouse have in common? They all died without a will. As a recent CNBC article noted, the years have seen many famous musicians with large estates die without a will or similar estate planning device in place. Reports are that Aretha Franklin now also makes this list.

Now, famous musicians are far from the only ones who sometimes neglect to have an estate plan. There are Americans from all different backgrounds and fields who put off forming a will or trust. And a person doesn’t have to be rich for there to be big risks in such delays. Putting off estate planning puts a person in danger of one day adding their name to the list of individuals who have died without a will or trust.

By failing to have a will or similar device in place, a person is surrendering something very important. This is his or her say in what will happen after he or she dies. Wills and similar devices allow people to express their wishes, in a legal enforceable form, when it comes to a range of after-death issues, including:

  • What will happen with their assets
  • Who will be in charge of managing their estate
  • Who will take care of their kids (if the children are still minors)

When people give up their say on these matters by not having an estate plan, these key issues will instead end up being decided by state intestacy laws or courts. This could not only lead to results the stray far from one’s wishes, but also open the door to a lot of disputes, confusion and hard feelings within one’s family.

Skilled estate planning attorneys can help individuals form wills and other estate planning documents aimed ensuring that they get to have their say when it comes to significant issues like those mentioned above.