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Where There is No Will, There is Still a Way: Prince's Estate to Pass by Intestacy

By of Aceto, Bonner & Cole, PC. posted in Divorce and Family Law on Friday, May 13, 2016.

On April 21, 2016, the world was shocked by the news that Prince had suddenly passed away. While this news was tragic, many were left wondering the same question, who was going to inherit Prince's fortune? While the answer to this question seems like it could be a simple one, the reality of it is far from that.

When Prince passed, he did not have a will or any kind of estate plan. A will is a legal document that mandates who will receive the money, property and assets of the decedent. In effect, he died "intestate." Each state has their own intestacy statutes. Therefore, the state laws in which the decedent is domiciled at the time of death will determine who receives the assets. Prince was domiciled in Minnesota at the time of his death. Since Prince passed without a wife or children and his parents, and grandparents are no longer living, Minnesota's intestacy statute, M.S.A. § 524.2-103, controls who gets his vast fortune.

Section 5 of the Minnesota statute states "if there is no surviving descendant, parent, descendant of a parent, grandparent, or descendant of a grandparent, to the next of kin in equal degree." This means that Prince's full sibling, as well as, his five half-siblings have a claim to his estate. However, there have been hundreds of individuals claiming to be a previously unknown half-sibling to Prince, which will make the distribution of his assets a difficult and lengthy process.

There is a lesson to be learned from the numerous individuals claiming to be related to Prince and falsely asserting a legal interest in his fortune. The lesson being that the creation of a will is extremely important in estate planning. Not only will it allow you to designate and distribute your assets how you wish, but it will prevent future litigation for your family members, as well as limit fraudulent claims from being raised by individuals in a despicable effort to receive a benefit they do not deserve.

Learn more about our work in Estate Administration.