Last week, we the people got a bit of a shock when the news came down that the estate of the late Prince Rogers Nelson would be subject to the full impact of both the federal and state inheritance laws. Since Prince died without a will or a wife, no child and no surviving parents, the man who was famous for protecting his copyrights, and his money left a mess for his sister and five half siblings to clean up.
What is most interesting about this case is that aside from the cash, the most valuable item Prince left behind is the contents of a vault that reportedly includes 2,000 unreleased songs of undetermined value. What will happen to THAT…Judge Andrew Napolitano talks it over with Kennedy.
So, the REAL value of Prince’s estate could well end up being determined by the federal government, and there is a good chance that the government’s estimates will exceed the cash available to pay the tax bills by quite a bit. That’s quite a catch-22.
What is fascinating, as Kennedy says, is that someone as fastidious about copyright as Prince was did not have this aspect of his affairs in order regardless of whether or not he thought his days were numbered. That, in and of itself, is a bit negligent. Now, all that he protected is in the hands of the government who most likely will auction it to the highest bidder.
If there is any lesson in Prince’s death to the rest of us, it is to recognize that probate, inheritance, and estate taxes are very much a lucrative business for the federal and state governments. That money – and any property – was already taxed at least once, sometimes multiple times over the years. Taxing it even more, yes, is immoral. This is yet another area to consider when thinking about who to vote for in November.