CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota judge overseeing the legal proceedings surrounding Prince‘s estate said Monday there will be no quick decisions on who should be allowed to inherit from the late megastar.
Prince died in late April of an accidental drug overdose, with no known will or children. A sister and five half-siblings are in line to inherit, with several others claiming a tie to the performer.
While attorneys for Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister, and others pushed for a quick resolution to establish control of an estate estimated at $300 million or more, the court first needs to set ground rules for which claimants can be considered.
Noting the complexity of claims and parentage law, Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide said he may forward his eventual decision to an appellate court for immediate review, drawing out the process even longer.
“This case is perhaps unique in the state of Minnesota,” he said. “I want to do it right because it’s important to a lot of people.”
The decision on Prince’s heirs will determine not just who gets Prince’s current wealth and Paisley Park recording studio but also who controls his music and the image he cultivated over four chart-topping decades. Industry experts have said his earnings potential after death is vast.
More than two dozen attorneys crowded into the small courtroom in the Minneapolis suburb of Chaska to jostle over the ground rules for who may ultimately be considered.
Attorneys for Tyka Nelson pushed the court to take a narrow view of heir eligibility. Nelson’s claim and that of several half-siblings are firmly based on legal documents that establish Prince’s parentage, including a divorce record for his parents.
They said claimants who have asserted that Prince’s parents were someone other than John Nelson and Mattie Shaw should be rejected.
Brian Dillon, an attorney for Tyka Nelson, urged Eide to act quickly.
“There is some urgency in determining who are the rightful heirs,” Dillon said. “We are now more than 2 1/2 months out from (Prince’s) death.”
Claimants who disputed Prince’s parentage pushed for a broader view of eligibility. James Selmer represents Venita Jackson Leverette, who claims that Prince’s real father was Alfred Jackson Sr. and that she is Prince’s half-sister.
Selmer said his client’s claim is strong and could be backed up by a DNA test if permitted by the court.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A hearing will be held in suburban Minneapolis regarding the procedures for determining who stands to inherit part of Prince‘s estate. Prince died in April of an accidental drug overdose, and no will has been found. The twice-divorced musician’s parents are dead and he didn’t have any known children, but he left behind a sister and at least five half-siblings. Others also have come forward to claim he was related to them.
Here’s a look at some of the issues likely to come up during Monday’s hearing in Chaska:
WHAT’S THIS HEARING ABOUT?
Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide called the second hearing of the case for the narrow purpose of discussing issues related to the protocols for determining who is an heir, including how DNA testing will be conducted. A DNA test has already ruled out a Colorado prison inmate who had claimed to be Prince’s son, according to a person who saw a sealed document and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to release the information. However, several other people have emerged to say he was their father, sibling, half-sibling or more distant relative. The hearing will not determine if any individual is a legal heir — that will be the subject of future proceedings. Claimants will have the chance to raise objections during Monday’s hearing.
WHO STANDS TO INHERIT?
Under Minnesota law, children come first if there is no will. If there are no parents, siblings come next. That means Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, and at least five half-siblings stand to share in the estate, which special administrator Bremer Trust has said could be worth up to $300 million. Other potential heirs include Brianna Nelson and a minor identified as V.N. They claim to be Prince’s niece and grandniece because they’re descendants of the late Duane Nelson Sr., who has been widely described as Prince’s half-brother. Court filings hint, but don’t explicitly say, that Duane Nelson might not have been a blood relative. But their attorneys say Prince’s father raised Duane Sr. and that Prince considered him a sibling. And they argue that counts under Minnesota’s parentage law, qualifying them to inherit Duane Sr.’s share.
WILL THE HEARING BE OPEN?
The judge has closed the hearing to cameras, microphones and sketch artists, saying Minnesota doesn’t allow video or audio coverage of paternity-related proceedings. Bremer Trust’s lawyers have said the potential heirs don’t want to have “their sensitive family histories … broadcast to the world.” While media and the public will be allowed in, Eide has reserved the right to remove them if he has to address paternity questions involving specific people. Several news organizations have objected, but Eide said he would not allow them to intervene in Monday’s hearing.
WHAT WILL BECOME OF PRINCE’S MUSIC AND PROPERTY?
Bremer Trust chose L. Londell McMillan, a longtime Prince attorney, and music executive Charles A. Koppelman to manage Prince’s entertainment assets while the court sorts out his estate. The future of Paisley Park, the home and studio complex in Chanhassen where Prince died, is expected to be part of that process. Long before he died, Prince told close friends he wanted to turn it into a museum, so the estate managers will explore opening up Paisley Park as a tourist attraction. The final decision will be up to the legal heirs.
(Photo Source: AP)