Prince’s Death Probate Update: 6 Siblings Will Inherit Millions

Hi there, Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, California. I do wills, trusts, estate planning and elder law.

Today, I want to talk about the death of Prince, the singer, and his estate. As you know or maybe as you’ve read, he didn’t have a will or anything. All of his $200 Million in assets would go to court to be distributed to heirs according to the Minnesota laws of intestate succession, which is succession after you die. There’s a set of laws that say who your assets go to. He wasn’t married and had no children that we knew of, but he had six siblings. This week, the court ruled that his six siblings will be the recipients of his $200 Million estate.

Of those six siblings, one sibling, a sister Tyka Nelson, was a full sibling to Prince. They share the same mother and the same father. The other five siblings were what we call half siblings, so either the father was shared or the mother was shared in the relationship of a sibling to him.

You need to know that the law treats half siblings and full siblings the same when you die without a will. Even though, he may not have had a relationship with those five siblings, maybe never even saw them, maybe never knew that they were actually his siblings, but at some point in time, those children were recognized by a parent and it doesn’t take much. It could be on a birth certificate, they could’ve gotten a… Even if they weren’t on the birth certificate, they could have gotten a Christmas note from the parent or a late in life contact from the parent and that would automatically make that person an heir to the parent and an heir to all of their siblings. That sibling, even if he didn’t have a relationship with them, would get over $10 Million of his estate based on this ruling. Even though the court had vetted 45 other people who were claiming to be spouses, children, and other relatives, it’s now narrowed down to these six.

The moral of the story is, the only way Prince could have prevented maybe a sibling that he didn’t know about or didn’t have a relationship with or those other 45 people who put a claim in to be considered a relative of his and an heir, would be to do a will. An even better solution for Prince, because in a will, he could say who the people he wanted his estate to go to. But an even better solution for Prince would for him to have done a trust in which he would have stayed out of probate court and not incurred somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 Million to $20 Million in expenses.

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