When Prince came out with his first hit record, "Soft and Wet" (1978), I and my high school best friend, Clarence Spann, knew, I mean knew, it was the "$#!+". That was a baaad jam! Then, when the 2nd album, "Prince," dropped (1979), I listened to the music thinking Prince was some type of music guru. Who was this guy, I thought, who played every instrument on the album, wrote, composed, and produced the whole thing? Then, when my sister and I saw him in concert in the ATL as the opening act for Stevie Wonder, I knew he would soon be headlining. Since then, I've just wondered how rich he was?
Now, it turns out that his brilliant stage career had taken a huge toll on his physical health. Wearing all those high heels and boots, in order to look taller, his "Royal Badness" developed serious hip problems. But, due to his religious beliefs, he refused to have hip replacement surgery. In order to live through the pain, he chose to live off of painkillers. Is there a point when your faith is life-defeating versus life-affirming?
I believe that there is such a point--when you decline medical treatment that can save your life; when you believe that you can defy death. Just 8 years shy of being a senior, he may have felt death was decades away. Thus, one reality that Prince avoided was getting his affairs in order. In my mind, he went from "being the $#!+" (an old black expression) to not having his $#!+ together.
I need to admit upfront, I'm angry at the man. It seems unconscionable to have a estate valued at $.5 billion and not have a will or final testament. That appears to be the state of affairs for Prince, who died recently at age 57. State and federal officials have so far been unsuccessful in locating a will or direct heir to Prince’s estate.
It's one thing to have faith in your potential to live a long life. It is another to not to protect your assets, and therefore, your family from financial ruin. In some life matters, we all can take a lesson from former president, Ronald Reagan, who stressed the need to "trust, but verify." We each owe it to ourselves to take necessary steps to insure our final arrangements are in place. Don't be overconfident that things will just work out.
As a minister and military chaplain, I often counsel people to take time and get their $#!+ together. That means take a day or days off from your work (or a weekend when you're off) and prepare a will, designate beneficiaries for all of your financial accounts, and think about how you want your remains to be disposed of.
The website DailyFinance.com reports that only 44% of Americans have made estate plans. Most have no will, power of attorney, life insurance, or named beneficiaries for their accounts. According to the Washington Post, “only 7 percent of those ages 18 to 29 have an advance directive.” This is a tragedy. Many people expect their family to play nice when death comes. Instead, people often become vicious and vindictive.
Final arrangements are difficult to make. I know from personal experience that taking it seriously means setting aside undivided attention just for organizing accounts and documents, safeguarding passwords, and creating files that accessible in the event of emergency and well-protected from unforeseen catastrophes. It can be painful and excruciating work.
I did this exact task several years ago. I started one morning about 8 o’clock and didn't finish until that afternoon around 5 o’clock. But once it was done, I felt such a relief off my shoulders. It gave me a sense of maturity and being responsible for my life.
There is a website that will help you get this done. It is called GYST.com, or Get Your Shit Together. The site will walk you through all of the essential aspects of getting your financial house in order—wills, living wills, and legal matters. They will even send your reminders as you go through the process. This helps you keep your records up-to-date as time passes. Things (relationships, marriages, jobs, etc.) change and you need to adjust your documents, as necessary.
Ever had that daydream about family and friends standing up and saying great things about you at your funeral. "Oh, so-and-so was such a bright light in our light," said in tears. Well, believe it or not, many people in your inner circle, whether family or friends, are just waiting for you to die in order to stake a claim on your assets. I’ve seen it in my own family and many others. It is a sad situation, but real. You can save yourself and your loved one serious legal problems by getting your $#!+ together now.
Prince has a host of siblings who are waiting in the wings. Each has an equal claim on his estate after the federal and state taxes are distributed. If he has child who surfaces and establishes the paternal relationship, the child will receive everything. Sadly, Prince could prevented this court wrangling by getting his $#!+ together when he had time. His close advisors, who knew he had perilous health due to his over-reliance on painkillers, could have insisted hat his affairs be in order.
Whether you're a Unitarian Universalist or Jehovah's Witness (like Prince), the essence of faith is trust. But, I believe that you need to do your part in continuously verifying your affairs are in order. That’s where preparation comes into play. Be prepared and get your stuff together. Do you have your $#!+ together? If you don’t, do it now!