In the month since Prince died and his heirs began wrangling over his estimated $300-plus million estate, many Americans have moved "draft a will" - arguably one of life's most unpleasant tasks - to the top of their to-do lists.
The rock star died on April 21 without a known will. Since then, Nolo.com (http://nolo.com), a legal information site, saw a 24 percent spike in sales for its downloadable WillMaker service, 42 percent for its Nolo Online Will and 41 percent for its Nolo Online Living Trust service.
LegalZoom.com (http://legalzoom.com) experienced a 46 percent increase in overall estate planning volume after April 21, plus a 20 percent increase in requests for attorney consultations.
RocketLawyer (http://rocketlawyer.com) saw a 57 percent increase estate planning activity.
Meanwhile, USLegalWills.com (http://uslegalwills.com) posted a 61 percent surge in the number of people completing a will in the three week's after Prince's death.
Prince's relatives, meanwhile, face the expensive and time-consuming process of a state-ordered probate.
Every time a high-profile celebrity dies without a will, estate lawyers say they see a flurry of planning discussions. But the truth is that personal life events typically motivate most people to draft a will, says estate and trust attorney Brian Raftery at Herrick, Feinstein LLP in New York.
Young parents name guardians, older couples plan for passing their wealth to children or to charity, or people hear about somebody else's bad experience with an inheritance and decide to plan smarter. Even so, only 67 percent of Americans over 55 have any sort of will, with the number plummeting to 22 percent for adults under 55, according to FindLaw, a unit of Thomson Reuters.
"People come because they want to avoid pain; we do things out of fear," says Brooke Borg, an attorney with her own firm in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Starting the estate-planning process online is one baby step to getting the required paperwork in order.