Just over a week has passed since the sudden death of the musical pop icon Prince Rogers Nelson – commonly known as ‘Prince’- and a number of questions have emanated from his death, such as the Purple Rain star’s suspected prior health issues and the cause of his shock passing.
However, one question which resonates most prominently and holds importance over any other centres around the confirmed reports that Prince did not leave a Will and specifically who will inherit his vast fortune, estimated to be worth in the region of $800,000.00 (£551,781.00).
This net worth amount is expected to grow by millions of dollars with the increase in sales of Prince’s music and merchandise following his death. A large catalogue of unreleased music is expected to add to the sizable fortune.
Prince was one of relatively few recording artists to have possessed ownership of his master recordings and his own music publishing and therefore the heir(s) to his fortune will benefit from the future sales of his already issued music.
According to Minnesota law when an unmarried person with no children who dies without a Will, the parents, grandparents and siblings of the deceased inherit their wealth. Prince was pre-deceased by his parents, and half-brother Duane Nelson. He was married and divorced twice and leaves no children behind. It is believed his sister, Tyka Nelson, is his only living full blooded relative. The singer also has five living half-siblings and under Minnesota law surviving half-siblings are treated the same as full siblings, raising the possibility of a drawn-out family battle.
There are rumours that Prince wanted to leave his entire estate to the Jehovah Witnesses. However, to successfully contest the probate of an estate, it must be proved that the plaintiff is entitled to the entire or a portion of the estate by demonstrating that the deceased’s final, express intent was to bequeath what is claimed to the plaintiff. Only by producing a Will, or some other operative legal document, that names the plaintiff as a beneficiary can the plaintiff prove that he or she is entitled to the estate. The deceased’s alleged intent needs to be documented and verifiable.
Tyka has recently filed probate documents with the Carver County District Court in Minnesota, asking the court to name an affiliate of the Bremer Bank in St. Cloud, Minn., as the special administrator, saying that the bank had provided financial services to Prince and had knowledge of his business affairs. What is interesting to note is that the five half-siblings are listed as heirs to Prince’s estate.
Whether Prince intended to leave his estate to his sister and 5 half-siblings equally is a question we will never really know the answer to, one which highlights the importance of executing a valid Will to ensure the administration of your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes.
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