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Carrying Out Final Wishes

Without a will, estate administration determines distribution

Over the course of a person's life, he or she may accumulate assets of value, such as real estate holdings or intellectual property. If that person passes away without a will in British Columbia, it is up to the court appointed administrator (a position that must be applied for) to manage the estate. In some cases, estate administration can be an extremely daunting task, as it has been for those responsible for the estate of one very famous musician.

The world-famous recording artist known as Prince passed away in April 2016. He left behind an enormous estate, including the rights to the recordings and publishing rights for approximately 1,000 songs. His musical holdings on their own are so complex that his estate hired two music industry executives to help establish new contracts for distributing the catalog. 

It is estimated that the entirety of the estate has a value of $300 million. Prince passed away without a will, and did not leave behind any special instructions for the management of his estate. A bank in Prince's home state was appointed to act as a special administrator for the estate.

Most people are unlikely to leave behind such a large and complex estate as this. However, even a more modest estate can be complicated to manage, if no clear directives were left. The days and weeks following a death are emotional and difficult ones, and the burden of estate administration may not be a welcome one. Men or women in British Columbia who find themselves responsible for the management of an estate may wish to look to a law firm with experience in this area for help and guidance with their task.

Source: The New York Times, "Universal's Deal for Prince's Song Rights May Bring a Wider Audience", Ben Sisario, Nov. 2, 2016

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