I wrote the book on Minnesota probate.

Estate Plan Fit for a Prince?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2017 | Estate Planning |

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During his lifetime, the late and great Prince of Minnesota had amassed what many expect to be a very significant estate. According to Forbes.com, estimates suggest Prince’s net worth is over $300 million. Prince smartly took measures protecting his ownership rights to his music. He retained control of his art, including performance royalties, publishing rights and more.

A large estate with no will or trust

A bigger question than the amount of his wealth may be why, it seems, Prince lacked a will or trust. One of his ex-wives asserts that he did have a will at one time. However, she does not know whether he destroyed it or created a new will. Perhaps Prince thought he did not need a will because he had no known children nor living parents. However, he does have a living sister as well as half-siblings. The issue of the non-production of a will has undoubtedly been slowing up the probate process.

Possible intestate succession law to apply

In cases where no will shows itself, a person who would inherit under the intestate succession laws of Minnesota can file a petition in probate court, asserting that the deceased died without a will. This allows the court to appoint an administrator to handle the estate as per the laws of intestate succession. The law will define precisely who gets what piece of the estate.

The sister’s possible incentive in presuming there is no will may be because if there is a will and she is not a listed beneficiary, she will have no right to any of Prince’s estate. On the other hand, as his closest kin, if he had no will, she will collect handsomely. Some have rumored that Prince and his sister suffered an estrangement until shortly before his passing, leading to speculation that if there was a will, it may not look favorably upon her. Thus, she may benefit only if there is no will.

As further noted by Forbes.com, it would not be strange for a person of wealth, like Prince, to have entrusted a third party with his documents. That party may just not yet have come forward with the documents necessary. Alternatively, there simply are no existing estate planning documents.

Forbes points out that if Prince had a revocable living trust, it would have kept his financial affairs private and his legacy and wishes enforced without the need for probate court. If Prince did, in fact, fail to execute a will or trust, he is not alone among celebrities to make such an estate planning mistake. It is unfortunate, though, because Prince’s true wishes may never come to fruition.