Two and a half months after Prince’s death, the distribution of his estate seems no clearer. The list of those claiming they deserve a share of the inheritance from late singer Prince Rogers Nelson appears to be growing by the day.

The basic problem? Prince died without a will, according to court documents filed by his sister back in April of this year.

While there’s a whole lot more to estate planning than just a will (as our attorneys at Geyer & Associates often explain), the will is the most basic testamentary document, primarily because it makes a person’s intentions clear.

A will, for example, would have designated which beneficiaries would receive a share (and how big a share) of the estate. Without the will, the laws of intestacy (lack of a will) prevail. Since Prince was a resident of Minnesota, his property will be distributed according to Minnesota state law. Had Prince been married, the spouse would have been first in line to inherit, followed by his children. But, with Prince having died unmarried and with no children, the next in line will be brothers and sisters. And, it happens that, under Minnesota law, half-siblings are treated the same as siblings when it comes to inheritances.

“Besides his one full sister, Tyka Nelson, and a half-dozen known half-siblings or their descendants,” explained USA Today, “others claiming to be half-siblings to Prince or his secret children have come forward.”

Prince’s exact net worth has yet to be made clear, but the size of the estate is probably in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and growing every day.  Not only did Prince own extensive real estate properties in and around Minneapolis, his millions of sound tracks, albums, and copyrights are constantly increasing in value as revenue continues to accrue from the sales of his music.

The big issues:

  • This coming January, the estate is due to pay as much as 57% of its value in federal and state taxes.
  • The estate is not allowed to earn revenue from the marketing of Prince’s music until the heirs are named.
  • Some who are claiming to be half-siblings have named as their mutual parent different men from Prince’s know father, John Nelson (who is deceased). DNA tests may be required of these claimants.

Meanwhile, over the past couple of months, although the estate administrator examined thousands of boxes of documents in four locations, no will has been found.

Prince’s estate continues to pose an ongoing estate settlement challenge. A will would have, at the very least, helped clarify how Prince wanted his affairs handled.
– by Corrina A. Smith