The importance of having a will and tips on writing one

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) $300 million and a growing estate. In the wake of prince's death, we find out that there is no will.

Record sales are soaring after the celebrity's death.

Who gets what is a decision that will be made in court.

His only full sibling, a sister, filed court documents in probate court.

An estate that size is rare, but complications surrounding no will are not.

Valley News Live spoke with an attorney to explain the sensitive subject and the significance of having a will.

From your home to your car and even what's inside your purse, all items that can be placed in your will.

"Some want it all laid out on the line so everyone knows what's going to happen in the event of their death," Jessica Foss, with Fredrikson & Byron, said.

Foss is an estate planning attorney.

"If you don't have that will and you have minor children then it's left up to the courts. Maybe the families get along and that will be an easy decision but it might not be," Foss said.

The minimum cost for a will is in the hundreds and varies depending on it's complexity.

For those that can't afford it, there is an alternative: The "do-it-yourself" route.

A quick online search brings up a document you can easily fill out but won't deal with everyone's issues.

"They are not very tailored to each client. They just assume the same situation for everyone that's going to use them," Foss said.

Simply writing it down on paper is an option. It's called a holographic will.

"Somebody could hand write or type their own will and sign it, date it in front of witnesses and call it their will," Foss said.

That approach is legal in North Dakota but not in Minnesota.

"There's a lot of people who try to do it themselves but there are things they don't think about or may not understand the exact words that need to be used," Foss said.

And what would happen to your assets if you die and never had a will?

That's up to the state you live in.

"Typically everything is left to spouse. If there is no spouse then kids. If no kids, then parents. If no parents then siblings. If no siblings then to nieces and nephews," Foss explained.

But defining family can get tricky, which is why it's best you decide what's going to happen when you're gone.

There are firms that offer pro bono work if you make a certain amount of income.

In North Dakota, you can check with an organization called Legal Services of North Dakota to see if you apply for their pro bono services.