Further Developments in the Case of Prince’s Estate

Why are there so many complications in settling Prince's estate?

If you're looking for evidence that estate planning is a procedure best handled with the expert assistance of a competent, well-informed estate planning attorney, you've come to the right place. This blog concerns the tumult around the unplanned for distribution of large estate. It is well-known that when gifted musician Prince died of a drug overdose this past April, he died intestate (without a will). That fact, combined with the fact that he apparently has a number of half-siblings, not to mention a sizable group of others claiming to be close relatives, has made settling his estate extremely complicated. The fact that the estate is estimated at over $300 million has unearthed a large number of potential "heirs."

In recent days, Minnesota Judge Kevin Eide of Carver County, who has been overseeing the eventual distribution of Prince's substantial estate, has narrowed the playing field, ruling that 30 claimants have no real ties to Prince or to the money he left behind. Meanwhile, the Judge has ordered that six "pretenders to the throne" undergo genetic testing to validate their claims. The six he has ordered to undergo genetic testing include:

  • Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson
  • Three half-siblings: Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, and John Nelson
  • Brianna Nelson, who claims to be Prince's niece
  • Victoria Nelson, who claims to be Prince's grand-niece

Brianna and Victoria Nelson claim that Briana's father was Prince's half-brother. Why Omar Baker or Alfred Jackson, who were listed as half-brothers in the original petition for a special administrator of the estate, are not being required to verify their relationships to the deceased through genetic testing is unclear. There is a note in Judge Eide's order, however, that states, that "the court is not aware of any objection or dispute" that all six siblings or half-siblings are not legitimate heirs. Interestingly, the two that don't need to be tested -- Baker and Jackson -- claim relation to Prince through a common mother, Mattie Shaw, but different fathers. It is, of course, generally much easier to validate maternity than paternity through paperwork and witnesses. Interestingly, none of the attorneys involved in the case has provided comment up to this point.

Numerous individuals who claimed biological ties to Prince have been dismissed by the court. These include several people who said they were related through a father other than Prince's biological father, and a few who declare that they are Prince's children, including a man who is serving an eight-year prison sentence in Colorado and who has already been ruled out through genetic testing.

Few people can expect the turbulence surrounding their estates to compete with the sound and fury surrounding the death of Prince. Nonetheless, the celebrity's passing and its aftermath demonstrate graphically how much turmoil can be left in the wake of a person who dies intestate. This is why, for the sake of your legacy and your loved ones it is crucial to have a skilled estate planning attorney assist you in preparing to have your wishes documented legally.

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