For the past week, the world has been mourning the death and celebrating the life of Prince, one of the most beloved and best-selling performing artists of all time. Questions still remain as to the cause of Prince’s death, but what has been revealed in the past few days is that, despite owning an estate valued in the nine figures, Prince may have died without creating a will. This leaves major questions as to, not only what will happen to his accumulated wealth and property, but who will control the ongoing business generated by his music and other properties.
Did Prince Create a Will?
At this point it is not clear. No one has come forward with a will, and his sister claims that there was no will. Prince was known to be a very smart businessman concerning his affairs, and was one of the few artists (along with Taylor Swift) to not release his music to streaming services in order to protect his property. Estate planning includes basic steps everyone should take, not just the wealthy, but it could be that he put it off, not expecting to die at the relatively young age of 57.
If There Was No Will, What Happens to His Property?
If a person dies without a will, then a state probate court will have to step in and distribute the deceased’s property according to the rules of intestacy of that state, in this case Minnesota. Intestacy rules typically dictate that a person’s property be distributed primarily to his or her spouse and children if there are any, and if there aren’t, then on to surviving parents and siblings.
In Prince’s case, he had two ex-wives (ex-spouses generally do not take under the rules of intestacy) and no known children (“illegitimate” children may be able to take in certain circumstances depending on a state’s specific rules of intestacy). His parents had deceased and he has only one sibling, his sister Tyka Nelson.
Tyka Nelson has indeed stepped forward and asked a Minnesota Court to appoint her as the special administrator to oversee Prince’s estate. In her filing, she listed six half-siblings of Prince as potential heirs of his property.
Who Controls Prince’s Music and Other Properties?
The Los Angeles Times reports that Prince’s estate may be worth around $300 million. For many world-famous rock stars, their estates continue to generate enormous revenue long after their death. This has been the case with artists such as Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, and Michael Jackson, and the fact that the two best-selling albums in the country this week are both by Prince suggests it will be the same with him.
Thus, determining who controls that property will have an enormous financial impact and continue to define Prince’s legacy. If there was no will, and Prince’s sister is indeed appointed the executor of the estate, it would appear that his remaining family would control his properties.
The Importance of Estate Planning
Given the huge amounts of assets and that there will be long-ranging implications for the future as Prince’s music and likeness will continue to generate large revenues, this is all a good reminder of the importance of estate planning for everyone. To work on your estate planning needs, contact Pasadena Estate Planning attorney Christopher Johnson today.