His sprawling genius took elements of funk, rock and pop music and reimagined them, creating dazzling hybrids that captivated audiences for decades. When he died earlier this year, Prince left a breathtaking musical legacy for future generations to enjoy.
The artist also left behind an enormous estate, but no will or trusts with which to divide those valuable assets to heirs of his choosing. Because Prince chose, for whatever reason, not to do even routine estate planning, months of wrangling between presumptive heirs has ensued, with the promise of more of the same in months ahead.
When he passed away in April, Prince left behind a sister and five half-siblings. The group has been determined to be heirs by the judge overseeing the probate proceedings. At least two others wish to join that select group destined to get shares of an estate estimated to be worth $300 million or more.
According to news reports, the two are related to a man who was apparently raised by Prince’s father, though no genetic link existed between the two. Prince’s father took on the duties of raising him, though the pair were not related by blood.
The heirs claim that without genetic links to the pop superstar, there can be no valid claim to inheritance.
It seems clear that there are no easy answers to the questions of who should or will eventually inherit portions of the estate. It is just as clear that only the musician himself could have made the process straightforward, but that he chose not to sit down with estate planning attorneys and decide how his enormous wealth should be protected and distributed.