Estate administration is more difficult without a will

In Texas and other jurisdictions, some of the biggest problems occur because a decedent did not have a will. The developing chaos over Prince's estate is an excellent example of oddities that can emerge where a wealthy celebrity dies without a will. The most dramatic incident is the appearance of an unknown female claiming to be the pop star's half-sister who is entitled to an equal share of the estate. The estate administration will not be finalized until the issue over the "long lost" heir is resolved.

With no parents, widow or children, the intestate law of most states leaves the estate to the decedent's siblings, in equal shares. The probate court already recognized that Prince has one full sister and five half-siblings. The new person on the scene is unknown to the others and will have to prove her assertions, which will not generally be easy to do.

However, regardless of how the fight turns out, the estate will likely incur substantial expenses in challenging the woman's contentions. With a will, there is little chance that she would have been able to assert a claim. The will would be a clear indication of the star's wishes and would make the appearance of an unmentioned individual an improbable event.

It is likely that the other siblings will challenge the woman's claims. Such a claim will not be proved by innuendo, suspicious circumstances or undocumented stories. The individual will need to present documentary or eyewitness testimony. Further, much of the evidence in this matter, if there is any, will have to face the difficult challenge of being tagged as hearsay.

Thus, having a written will is an important aspect of good estate planning in Texas, and is vital to a smooth estate administration. Even in small estates, the absence of a will can lead to important conflicts. In both situations, the court must determine the winner of each conflicting issue by holding hearings and issuing a decision. As is typical of our system of jurisprudence, the loser of a contested matter tried in front of the local probate judge may appeal to a higher court.

Source:, "Woman Says She Is Prince's Long Lost Sister, Claims Part Of Estate", May 3, 2016

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