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A year later, Prince estate offers lessons re wills and trusts

One year ago, music fans in Michigan and the rest of the world were shocked to learn of the death of Prince. While the tragedy of his drug overdose caused many to shake their heads, it is the condition of his estate that continues to make headlines a year later. Without considering wills and trusts to disperse his hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, Prince left a legal nightmare and a probate that is now in its 12th month.

The list of dozens of people who claimed to be heirs has been narrowed to six. These include Prince's sister and five other half-siblings. The next battle was deciding who would be the personal representative of the heirs. With no guidance from Prince regarding his preference, the heirs were left to battle among themselves, taking sides and creating additional confusion and lawsuits. Now each side has its own representative.

Additionally, the heirs now accuse the trust company that was appointed to administer the estate temporarily of stealing funds from the estate. After another bank took over the administration, the heirs were once more divided about that decision. With so many heirs involved and no hint of the intentions of Prince, the courts are left to figure it out.

The complexity of the estate adds another challenge. Prince owned several unique, custom-made vehicles, real estate and gold, all worth about $300 million. Most importantly, Prince left a vault of unreleased music with mind-blowing potential value. Nevertheless, as many in Michigan do who die without wills and trusts, Prince leaves his heirs with years of probate, litigation and taxes.

Source: vanityfair.com, "Prince's Estate Plagued with Disputes a Year After His Death", Kenzie Bryant, April 7, 2017

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