Last Thursday, people in Massachusetts and around the world were stunned and saddened to learn that Prince died. The prolific singer, songwriter, producer and performer was just 57 years old and police in his hometown of Minneapolis continue to investigate what factors may have contributed to his untimely death. Earlier this week, the public learned more shocking news related to Prince's passing when his sister, Tyka Nelson, "filed an emergency motion...to have a special administrator appointed to gather and protect his assets." Nelson's motion was in response to her assertion that her late-brother had no will or other known estate planning documents.
Prince's talent and appeal were undeniable and he fought hard to maintain ownership and control over the music he made as well as his private life and public image. In the days following the singer's death, words such as enigmatic, shy and private have been used to describe the man that, despite his superstardom, largely remained a mystery. However, given the fact that Prince appears to have died without a will, numerous details about the singer's personal wealth, debts and business dealings are likely to become part of the public record as his estate goes through probate.
If Prince really did die intestate or without a will, the process of valuing his assets could take years. In addition to determining the total amount of assets he had at the time of his death, steps must also be taken to estimate the value of his personal brand for future use. At the time of Prince's death, public records indicate that he owned properties worth more than $31 million, including his sprawling Paisley Park complex which includes a recording studio and a vault that is said to contain a treasure trove of unreleased songs.
In addition to discovering and valuing Prince's assets, taxes will also need to be paid on the estate. The Internal Revenue Service's current estate tax exclusion amount is $5.45 million. This means that any assets in excess of this amount will be taxed at 40 percent.
With no will, per Minnesota law, Prince's assets will be divided among his closest living heirs. At the time of his death, Prince had one living sister and six half-siblings. Under Minnesota law, both full and half siblings are viewed the "same for inheritance purposes."
We'll continue to provide additional information about Prince's estate as details emerge.
Source: Star Tribune, "Prince's sister says he had no known will," Dan Browning, April 27, 2016