Prince was a singer, songwriter, producer, seven-time Grammy winner, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer that sold over 100 million records over the span of his 40-year career. “The Purple One’s” death on April 21st of this year came as a huge shock to his millions of fans around the world. The prolific singer left behind a massive legacy, including innumerable hours of unreleased musical recordings, personal effects, and his Minnesota recording facility Paisley Park—all worth an estimated $500- $800 million. Since then, his estate has been surrounded by a lot of controversy.
With the singer’s unexpected death and without any wills or trusts detailing his last wishes regarding his estate, it can come as no surprise that several purported family members are coming forward seeking a piece of Prince’s fortune. Prince’s only full blood sibling, Tyka Nelson, successfully filed a petition with a Minnesota court to put the estate under the control of Bremer Trust, a wealth management company that handled Prince’s finances while he was still alive.
Prince and Nelson have five surviving half-siblings that will all undoubtedly prosper from the estate. If there is in fact no will left behind by the star, Minnesota law and federal tax code will dictate who gets what and at what price. In this case, Prince’s sister Tyka and his five half-siblings would each inherit one-sixth of the estate since Minnesota law treats all siblings the same.
However, since late April of this year, there have been nearly 700 people claiming to be related to Prince in some regard. One such claimant is alleged son Carlin Q. Williams, a federal inmate in Colorado. Other potential heirs include Brianna Nelson and Victoria Halloran, alleged niece and grand-niece, respectively. Many others claim to be half-children, distant relatives, and so on. As professional elder law attorneys in Orange County, we can safely attest that the process of sorting through all of the claims will take several months, if not a year or more.
Bremer Trust, the administrator of Prince’s estate, is rightfully being extremely cautious in assessing these claims. Under Minnesota intestate law, there is no requirement to be genetically tested to prove relation as long as legal documents such as birth and marriage certificates can prove relation to the deceased. However, a probate judge recently authorized Bremer Trust to obtain a sample of Prince’s blood from the coroner for any future necessary genetic analysis to support or refute the alleged family members’ claims to the star’s fortune.
Many people assume that estate planning is a process that only very wealthy individuals should concern themselves with. However, as we can see beginning to take place with Prince’s relatives, if someone doesn’t have a proper estate plan in place before their death, their family members usually wind up in probate court. The debate over who receives what assets can be not only traumatic, but expensive and time consuming.
In our time as elder law attorneys, we have seen too many families struggling with treading the murky waters left behind after a family member passes without an estate plan in place. Contact OC Elder Law today for more information on how we can help you create a plan to protect your family and your assets!