What Not Having An Estate Plan Cost Prince’s Siblings

What Not Having An Estate Plan Cost Prince’s Siblings

Not having a estate plan could become a financial burden surviving loved ones may not be prepared for. So, what happens when they cannot afford to complete the Probate process?

This is exactly what happened with Prince’s estate. Without a Will or an Estate Plan, his heirs (namely, his siblings) found themselves in a very difficult position of having to deal with the many legal complications that arose during Probate and having to pay millions of dollars they did not have on hand.

Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) passed away in April of 2016 at the age of 57. At the time of his death, his estate was estimated to be worth around $156.4 Million. Since the “Purple Rain” singer passed away unmarried with no known children, by law, his six siblings (full-blood sister, Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings, Sharon, Norrine, John, and Alfred Nelson, and Omarr Baker) stood to inherit the estate. However, Prince did not leave a Will or have a Trust.  This left his estate vulnerable to claims – and as many as 45 people turned up alleging they were related to the late singer in one way or another.

While many of them were quickly ruled out, some warranted closer investigations before rejecting their claims – among them were an incarcerated man who claims he’s Prince’s lovechild with a fan and a woman and her daughter claiming to be Prince’s half-niece and half-grandniece.  Both have since been ruled out as heirs. However, the process of getting all the claims dismissed came with a steep cost. Per Prince’s half-sister Sharon, the six siblings collectively spent $3 Million to defend their interests in the estate against claims alone.

Add to that, they also had to settle a $31 million tax bill from the IRS and pay legal and court fees – all without being able to touch a cent of their inheritance.

It took six years, over 2,711 court filings, several DNA tests, and millions of dollars in legal fees (by 2019, the estate had already reportedly incurred $45 Million in legal fees) before Prince’s estate was finally settled in August of 2022. His sister and five half-siblings were officially ruled as the heirs to his estate. Unfortunately, by this point, the estate was barely intact.

Because of the long, complicated, and costly Probate process, some assets had been liquidated – including Prince’s yellow mansion which stood on a 188-acre property in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Three of his siblings also sold their shares of the estate – and the rights to his music along with it – just to be able to liquidate. While the exact amount was not disclosed, it’s highly likely that these shares sold for much less than their actual value.

Prince reportedly had a distrust of lawyers from his early days in the music industry when he was allegedly made to sign deals and documents that were not beneficial for him. This could explain why he did not receive proper advice on the transfer of assets upon death. However, it’s highly unlikely that he would have wanted a substantial portion of his hard-earned wealth to go to courts, lawyers, and taxes. Half of Prince’s estate ended up being owned by music companies instead of his siblings. While these companies were able to help bankroll the process of settling his estate, would he have wanted his family to get the short end of the stick?

In Texas, full-blooded siblings and half-blooded siblings are not awarded equal shares of a decedent’s estate. However, a proper Estate Plan can help eliminate claims of blood relationship, apply tax-saving strategies, and generally provide a smoother distribution and transfer of assets and properties in accordance with your wishes.

It’s a common misconception that Estate Planning is only for the extremely wealthy. The transfer of wealth is only just one aspect of Estate Planning. From avoiding Probate and protecting your assets from claims and creditors to setting up provisions on how your heirs will receive their inheritance and more, the Law Office of Antoinette Bone, PLLC is well-versed in a wide variety of planning strategies available to help you convey your wishes and achieve your Estate Planning goals.

Take the first step in your Estate Planning journey today. Call our office to request an appointment

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