Prince: Enigmatic Musician Dies Without a Will or Trust

Prince: Enigmatic Musician Dies Without a Will or Trust

We were still mourning the loss of David Bowie when we learned that Prince had tragically died a few weeks ago in his Minnesota home. A mysterious superstar who was widely regarded as a musical genius, his popularity transcended generations and genres. Prince sold more than 100 million albums and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004—20 years after the soundtrack to “Purple Rain” was a multi-platinum success.

It has been estimated that Prince’s estate is worth $300M

Prince owned a dozen properties in and around his famous Paisley Park complex in suburban Minneapolis: mostly rural pieces of land and some houses for family members. Public records show those properties were worth about $27 million in 2016. In addition to this, he owned his publishing rights and master recordings–apparently an unusual arrangement.

For music’s superstars, estate values increase with death

Prince’s relatives will be seeking control of the lucrative Prince brand. One source noted that Prince has produced a significant amount of music that lives in a vault and has never been released, and there’s another economic variable to be factored in. As we’ve learned from other musical superstars, their music grows in value after they’ve died. There is no question that the value of Prince’s music, like the post-mortem entertainment empires of Michael Jackson, James Dean and James Brown, will grow exponentially in death. Think about this: Elvis Presley died in 1977; incredibly, his estate earned $55M in 2015.

So who inherits Prince’s estate?

Prince was twice divorced, had no known children and his parents were deceased. He had one full sibling, sister Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings who could share in his estate. At the request of Nelson, Bremer Bank, National Association, which provided financial services for Prince for a number of years, has been appointed administrator of the estate. To the best of Nelson’s knowledge, Prince did not have a Will or Living Trust, so Bremer Bank now has the authority to manage Prince’s assets and to ask the court to determine the identities of his heirs.

The public reality that is Probate

When a celebrity dies—especially one who has captured hearts and headlines for more than 30 years–it’s big news. Prince was young, just 57, and may have thought he had plenty of time to create a Will and Living Trust. We don’t yet know the cause of death, though there are rumors of ill health and an addiction to powerful opioid painkillers. These issues should have motivated him to create a Living Trust but clearly did not. The endless media attention and speculation about net worth and heirs are reasons most celebrities create Trusts. Without one, an estate becomes part of the court-administered process of Probate, which is how Prince’s estate will be settled. For Prince’s heirs, the process will not only be long, expensive and painful; it will also be public.

Have you been procrastinating about creating a Living Trust? Contact California Document Preparers at one of our three Bay Area locations and schedule an appointment today!