Peabody Law Firm

What Did Pablo Picasso, Michael Jackson, and Prince All Have in Common? Lack of Estate Planning

Estate planning is a crucial aspect of life that often gets overlooked or delayed. Unfortunately, failing to create a comprehensive estate plan can lead to numerous complications and uncertainties after a person’s passing. Even famous and influential figures like Pablo Picasso, Michael Jackson, and Prince found themselves caught in the web of intestacy laws due to their failure to establish proper estate planning documents. This article explores the consequences and challenges that arise when individuals pass away without a Will or Trust.

Pablo Picasso: The Renowned Artist’s Unresolved Legacy

Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, passed away in 1973 without leaving behind a will or any clear instructions regarding the distribution of his extensive estate. The absence of an estate plan led to prolonged legal battles and disputes among his heirs over his artworks, properties, and valuable assets.

The lack of a will complicated the division of Picasso’s estate and resulted in significant delays in settling his affairs. The absence of clear guidance also made it challenging to protect the integrity of his art and control the use of his name and brand.

Michael Jackson: The King of Pop’s Complex Aftermath

Michael Jackson, the iconic King of Pop, passed away in 2009 without a valid will in place. The absence of a clear estate plan led to a highly contested legal battle over the control and distribution of his assets, which included a vast music catalog, lucrative business ventures, and valuable intellectual property rights.

The lack of a will prolonged the settlement process and complicated the administration of Jackson’s estate. It resulted in disputes among family members, legal challenges, and substantial expenses. The estate’s management also involved the establishment of special trusts to protect the interests of Jackson’s children and ensure the longevity of his legacy.

Prince: The Musical Icon’s Unsettled Legacy

Prince, the legendary musician known for his innovative music and eclectic style, passed away in 2016 without a will or any clear instructions regarding the distribution of his assets. The absence of an estate plan plunged his estate into legal turmoil, with multiple claimants emerging and contentious battles over his music catalog, unreleased recordings, and valuable intellectual property rights.

The lack of a will complicated the resolution of Prince’s estate and created uncertainties about the rightful ownership and control of his artistic works. It led to a protracted settlement process, legal disputes, and the involvement of court-appointed administrators to oversee the administration and distribution of his assets.


The cases of Pablo Picasso, Michael Jackson, and Prince highlight the importance of proper estate planning. Regardless of their fame or fortune, failing to establish a revocable trust or Will can have severe consequences for loved ones left behind. Without clear instructions, the distribution of assets becomes subject to intestacy laws, resulting in potential disputes, delays, and unnecessary expenses.

Estate planning offers numerous benefits, such as ensuring the orderly transfer of assets, minimizing estate taxes, protecting loved ones, and maintaining control over one’s legacy. By consulting with legal and financial professionals, individuals can create an estate plan tailored to their specific needs and desires, ensuring their wishes are carried out efficiently and effectively.

The lesson from the legacies of Pablo Picasso, Michael Jackson, and Prince is clear: take control of your estate planning now to avoid unnecessary complications and provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

Increasing awareness about the importance of estate planning is crucial, as highlighted by the Wall Street Journal’s personal-finance podcast. The risks associated with dying without a will are significant, as it can jeopardize the future of your assets. Understanding what a will entails, the assets it typically covers, and the consequences of not having one is essential for everyone. By taking the necessary steps to create an estate plan, including a revocable trust and pour-over Will, individuals can protect their assets, minimize complications, and ensure their wishes are carried out effectively. Educating yourself about estate planning, whether through resources like the Wall Street Journal’s podcast or consulting with legal and financial professionals, can provide valuable insights and guidance in navigating this critical aspect of financial planning.