Pop music star Prince apparently died without writing a will, and it’s likely that his relatives and business contacts will be fighting in a Minnesota court for years over his estate, estimated at $150 million to $300 million.
With no wife or children, first in line, according to estate law, are Prince’s six siblings. Under simple court rules governing inheritances when there is no will, each of the siblings will get an equal share. That will apply whether Prince was fond of each of the siblings or not. And with Prince’s complex estate, massive business dealings, his practice of secrecy and millions in wealth at stake, attorneys don’t expect this case to culminate quickly or simply.
“It’s ironic,” said Avi Kestenbaum, a New York estate planning attorney with Meltzer Lippe. “Prince, at age 57, spent 37 years making his legacy. He fought the music industry for control, and now he has no control.”
It’s a lesson for other people, whether rich or poor, famous or regular. When you die without a will, you get no say. If you hated a relative, your children might end up in that person’s care. If you divorced and forgot to take a previous spouse’s name off an account or insurance policy, your new spouse or children might not benefit. If you have a business, and children with no interest in it and no business savvy get control, the value of your life’s work could be destroyed.