Music icon Prince, who died last week at the age of 57, guarded his private life fiercely throughout his career. That privacy will likely extend to his estate. It's possible that the value of his estate as well as his beneficiaries may never be known.

Wealth and Future Value of Assets Unknown

Prince's wealth has been estimated in the media at somewhere in the $250 million to $300 million range, although with no real basis for that estimate. Then there is the future value of his music, both published and unpublished as of his death, or the Prince brand as a whole. One entertainment lawyer in Minneapolis, near where Prince kept his home and recording base in Paisley Park, called it "impossible to pinpoint."

While we often see media reports of the value of a celebrity's estate after his or her death, there are ways to keep it private. Unless someone who expected to be an heir or beneficiary challenges the estate documents and files papers in court, the details of the estate are likely to remain as private as the reclusive star was.

Estate Distributions Can Be Shielded from Public Scrutiny

One Minneapolis estate planning attorney said that it was "very unlikely" that the value of Prince's estate will be ever disclosed. Estate planning attorneys say that most people who prefer that the details of their estate and the distributions made from it after death remain private use trusts. Charitable foundations and bequests can also be established. Unless the musician wanted these donations to be publicly disclosed, another estate planning attorney said, "It's awfully safe to say that none of that's going to see the light of day."

Most people's estate plans, heirs and beneficiaries aren't subject to the kind of media scrutiny that those belonging to celebrities may be. However, by having a solid estate plan in place, you can minimize the number of court documents that need to be filed by trustees and others after your death. This not only helps protect your privacy, but, more importantly, it lessens the amount of work that your family and loved ones need to do during what will no doubt be a sad time for them. For many people, that's reason enough to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to get a plan in place and keep it updated throughout your life.