In a previous post, we discussed the emerging struggle for control of Prince's estate following the famed musician's sudden death and the discovery that he'd died intestate, without a will.
Now, a Minnesota judge has finally added some clarity to the issue by naming the music legend's six siblings his rightful heirs. The siblings, which include a full sister, two half-sisters and three half-brothers, emerged as the only ones with a rightful claim on the $200 million dollar estate out of more than 45 people who tried to claim a share.
The move isn't without controversy, however, especially among those disinherited -- including a woman and her daughter claiming to be the musician's niece and grand-niece.
The judge had initially intended to wait to make his ruling until the appeals filed by some of those also claiming to be Prince's heirs were settled, but lawyers for the siblings successfully argued that further delays would prevent the estate from being properly managed and unnecessarily increase its administration costs. As it stands, because there was no will, estate taxes will already eat away about half of that $200 million.
Even with the judge's ruling, the heirs won't yet be able to collect. They have to wait on all the appeals to be settled and a year has to pass to give anyone else who feels rightfully entitled to a share of the estate to step forward. This is just one more step in the convoluted process caused by the absence of a will.
The estate also faces other disputes -- there's been conflict between the heirs and the estate's executors and a previous executor brokered a deal with Universal Music Group for some of Prince's music that Universal now wants canceled. It has been recently discovered that Universal can't be guaranteed clear title to the music it bought in the deal. That means some of the artist's music catalog could end up going to auction.
The ongoing legal drama over the estate is a prime example of what anyone who is concerned about their legacy doesn't want to see happen -- and how a properly executed will could prevent all of it, including the loss of millions just to taxes. For advice on how to avoid probate litigation with your own estate, talk to an attorney today.
Source: Rolling Stone, "Prince Estate: Sister, Five Half-Siblings Named Heirs," Daniel Kreps, May 19, 2017