Prince’s Would-be Heirs’ Claim Rejected by the Appeal Court

The Minnesota Appeal Court ruled that the judge overseeing the estate of the late rock superstar Prince decided correctly when he rejected five people who claimed to be half-siblings and heirs of the late rock superstar Prince. Prince died in April 2016 of an accidental painkiller overdose.

Judge Kevin Eide, of the Carver County District Court, decided in May that Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson and five half-siblings qualified as heirs.

Eide previously declared that John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw were Prince’s parents because they were married when the singer, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, was born in 1958.

Prince left no will when he died at age 57, at his Paisley Park Studios compound near Minneapolis.

Darcell Johnston, Loya Wilson, Loyal Gresham III, Orrine Gresham and Venita Jackson Leverette, the would-be heirs, claimed that John Nelson was not Prince’s father, and that they were half-siblings through either of two other men.

But the appeals court said that because John Nelson was Prince’s “presumptive father” under state parentage laws, he was also Prince’s “genetic father” under state probate laws.

It said this meant Prince’s estate must pass to descendants of John Nelson and Mattie Shaw, which included none of the would-be heirs, who were not allowed to undergo genetic testing.

Source: Reuters

The first lesson that we could learn from Prince’s case is that we all should draw up a will. Although most of us will not have a background as colourful as Prince, we should still consider have a will drawn up as soon as possible.

Without a will, we will not be able to ensure that our assets will be distributed to the persons that we intend to receive our assets. It will then be left to the court’s interpretation of the law as to who is entitled to our assets.

Further, it will cause our families a lot of financial and emotional distress going through the probate proceedings. All the accounts and assets will be frozen until the probate matters are sorted. The assets may not have been invested in an income bearing channel or worse, may even depreciate in value as time goes by, depending on the type of asset.