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Don't die like Prince

Don't die like Prince

When famed singer Prince died, the world lost a creative genius. Since most people considered him a music legend, he received relatively few accolades for his business acumen. However, after Prince died, several news sources confirmed that he maintained control over the rights to his music including master recordings, publishing rights and performance royalties making him a shrewd businessperson. Prince even had a vault where he stored his unreleased songs. According to rumors, the musician’s unreleased tunes total in the hundreds.

Estimating Prince Net Worth

The full value of Prince’s music has yet to be revealed, but early estimates that include his earnings and future royalties range from $300 million to $500 million. Some reports claim that this figure is low. During the first few days following his unexpected death, Prince’s music sales grew by about 16,000 percent. The sales number increase could be just the start. With this amount of money on the table combined with Prince’s music legacy and business sense, it’s surprising to learn that the singer may have passed away without a will.

Next of Kin

When a person dies without a will, the state in which they reside distributes the individual’s property based on the state’s laws of intestate succession. Prince passed away without living parents and with no known children. According to reports, his nearest living relatives include his sister, Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings. Nelson filed a petition with the Minnesota Court stating that her brother died intestate, which means that she believes that he died without an official will. However, her claim may prove unfounded. The singer could have completed estate planning, but to date, these types of documents have not been discovered.

After Michael Jackson died a few years ago, his mother filed the same kind of petition as Nelson did. Jackson’s mother even asked the courts to open a probate estate for her son. She was wrong about Jackson dying intestate as he did have a will and a revocable living trust in place, but because Jackson didn’t select someone to be in charge of his trust or estate, his family fought in court over it for years. Despite their actions, Michael Jackson did not leave his estate to chance by failing to establish a will. He took steps to protect his musical legacy.

Like Michael Jackson, Prince may have decided who should inherit his estate. If he did, Nelson may not be aware of it. According to rumors, Prince and Nelson were estranged for a number of years, but the two had supposedly reconciled before the music legend died. Because of the past estrangement, Nelson’s knowledge of her brother’s legal affairs is likely limited. In addition, Prince lived privately, so if he left a will or a revocable living trust behind, then the settling of his financial affairs may remain private. They would also take place much more smoothly than they would without the legal documents since a trust is the best way for a person to make sure that his or her final wishes are followed.

What Will Happen if a Will Isn’t Found?

When someone dies without a will and the court follows the laws of intestacy, the legal system will divide the person’s estate among his or her closest living relatives, so the musician’s estate would go to his sister and half-siblings unless a secret child suddenly emerges. According to reports, several people have come forward claiming to be Prince’s heir. If these claims prove to be unfounded, then the singer’s siblings will inherit his estate. In Minnesota, half-siblings are treated the same as full siblings, so these relatives have as much claim to Prince’s estate as his full sister does.

The singer’s sister and half-siblings have stated that if they gain control of Paisley Park, Prince’s home, then they will turn it into a museum like Elvis Presley’s family did with Graceland. However, these plans are a long way from becoming a reality because without a will, the government will take up to 50 percent of the estate in taxes, and this will significantly lower the amount of funds that are available to honor the singer with a museum. It’s doubtful that Prince wanted the state and federal government to take half of his wealth in taxes.

With so many half-siblings in the mix, it seems unlikely that they would all agree to turn Prince’s property into a museum. It’s more likely that a few of them want to do this while others would prefer to sell the property and split the proceeds. One or two of them may even have completely different goals in mind.

Without a will, the Minnesota court is in for a long haul when it comes to making decisions about Prince’s estate. It usually takes a year or more to close the estate of an individual with average means. The singer’s siblings are facing years of litigation. Also, with this type of extended litigation, attorneys, executors, administrators and others stand to make millions off the performer’s estate instead of these funds going to Prince’s favorite charity or a loved one.

Control over Inheritance

If Prince did not complete his estate planning, then his financial assets will wind up in probate, and the government will take control of his property temporarily while sound recording companies will likely gain access to his music including his past hits along with the music he had yet to release. In addition, without a will or trust in place, the music legend lost his chance to say who controls his legacy. In the case of Prince, his music, likeness and image could wind up being used in ways that he would not have wanted. This is the real shame because when a person like Prince dies without a will or a trust, his wishes and intentions are no longer a consideration.