Lessons from Prince’s Estate for the African American Community
As a member of the African American community and in recognition of the iconic status he held for us, I am seizing this moment to use Prince’s passing as a “Teachable Moment!” Prince, by all accounts an extraordinary talent, was also quite representative of our community. His life and his decisions can serve as a mirror of the behavior we exhibit and choices we make. This article highlights how our community can learn from his living as well as from his passing.
- Giving and Service. Many people have come forward to share how Prince had been incredibly philanthropic during his life. He had given of his time, talent and treasure to many whom he did not know. He did this many times without receiving recognition and applause for his actions. What a world this would be if we each gave from our abundance like he did. But even more than that was Prince’s amazing penchant to give without recognition. What a changed world we would have if generosity were its own reward. Our time, treasure and talent can be better sown to reap greater than we could ever measure.
- Atypical family structures require more planning. Families come in all different shapes and configurations. The standard blend with divorce, remarriage and death is par for the course for many. However, we know that, especially in our communities, there are other configurations in addition to the standard blend. For example, we know that estrangement in families leads to “the silent treatment” or even the relocation out of a marital home at the perceived end of a relationship. Yet these developments do not mean the end of a relationship in the eyes of the law. The rights and responsibilities of a family will follow a blood line, unless we make a formal plan that will provide direction.
- You don’t need to stand alone. We all have gifts, skills and talents however, we are not an island. There is much to know in order to be successful outside of our gifts. We are not created to operate in isolation. Subsequently, when we realize our need beyond our capacity, it is best to engage someone with the skills we need. In Prince’s case, it seems that his physical issues debilitated and eventually killed him. We have the capacity to build a network of family, friends and professionals that strengthen us. As the story of Prince is becoming public we hear of physicians who were trying to intervene on his behalf to address his physical issues. As an estate planning attorney, I know there are many of us who would have eagerly provided professional support to preserve his legacy and protect his privacy.
- Appreciate today but plan for tomorrow. Most of us don’t know the date of our transition. We cannot typically predict our incapacity or death. We believe that if Prince knew that he was going to pass away when he did he would have made different decisions. He isn’t different from most of us who have put off critical decision-making. We must remember that as we enjoy the youth of today, the wisdom of tomorrow is not promised.
Prince’s genius was beyond words and his life gives us public lessons. Let’s learn from his greatness and his mistakes. We can do better when we know better.
By: Aimee D. Griffin, Esq.
Featured Article in the Washington Informer: July 2016