Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister, claims that the artist died with no will in place, and for the time being judges have confirmed that. This means that Minnesota probate court will appoint a personal representative to determine the distribution of his assets based on statues and federal tax code, and there will likely be hefty taxes associated. Early estimates put Prince’s estate at $250 million, which, without a will, could mean as much as a $120 million tax bill. In addition, there are future business earnings associated with unreleased recordings, images, and his name that will generate revenue for years to come.
Prince’s financial advisors, Bremer Bank, are currently tasked with preserving the estate and locating the heirs until a personal representative is assigned. Heirs include Tyka Nelson and five half-siblings.
If no will is found, Prince will join ranks of musicians who neglected to protect their estates and portfolios, including Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix. However, if a will is discovered, it will be enforceable. Filmmaker Ian Halperin asserts that the lack of a will is inconsistent with Prince’s business savvy, and has raised speculation that a will might be in Canada, where Prince formerly owned a home and had a relationship.
The one thing that is undisputed, regardless of celebrity status, is that dying without a will causes a legal mess, sparks family feuds, and squanders hard-earned money that could have easily been protected through trusts and other provisions. Still, studies show that 55% of adult Americans do not have a will.