While most estate lawyers recommend creating a will around the age of 40, the musician Prince did not have one at all. Nine months after the superstar’s untimely death, his lack of a formal will is still causing a lot of problems.
The Minnesota judge that is currently overseeing Prince’s $200 million estate released a statement earlier this month saying that he must wait for appeals to be finished before he will be able to make a final decision on the case.
In his statement to USA Today, Judge Kevin Eide explained that Prince’s six siblings are most likely to be the heirs of the estate. For the past nine months, the judge has had to reject numerous claims from people saying they were the wife, child, or sibling of the former Purple Rain singer. For now, DNA tests are still pending on some of these dubious claims, and it will take another couple of months for them to all be completed.
Prince died in April of an apparent accidental opioid overdose at 57-years-old. Since he had no living parents or children, under Minnesota law the entirety of his estate would be given to his one sister and five half-siblings. Although, once the estate has its federal taxes taken out, estimates reveal it will only amount to about $100 million.
However, there are many questions revolving around exactly what Prince would have wanted before his premature death. Lawyers say that this is exactly why a will is supremely important, as no one will know his true wishes. Even more troubling, without a formal will, the wishes of the deceased might not be honored at all.
“His intent is irrelevant because he never wrote it down,” explains Laura Zwicker to Bloomberg. “That’s why it’s so imperative to get people to write their intent down. Even if they knew his intent and wanted to follow it, they can’t.” Zwicker oversees estate planning at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman and Machtinger LLP and is working on the singer’s estate.
Currently, lawyers on Prince’s estate are hard at work figuring out various contracts for various companies to oversee his many songs, public performance rights, and correlated merchandise. They are also offering tours of Prince’s estate at Paisley Park, Minnesota for $38.50.
Zwicker says that these agreements will remain, regardless of the estate settlement. Many fans believe that this is a direct slap in the face to Prince’s legacy, as he was very vocal about a desire to have direct control over his music. Known for breaking away from record companies who made him feel like he didn’t have artistic control — not to mention taking his songs off Spotify right before his death –many people believe he would be unhappy with how his estate is playing out.
But since there is no will, or anything written down to express Prince’s wishes, the estate lawyers are doing the best they can with what they have.