Wisconsin music fans may recall the death of musician Prince in 2016 and the news that he had died without a will. Now almost two years since his death, Prince's heirs still have not received their inheritance. However, the government has been paid millions in taxes by the estate and is asking for more.
Since Prince had no estate plan or even a will, it is taking a long time for his estate to go through the probate process. The fees the estate is being charged are rising. The musician's six siblings are his heirs. It took more than a year from the time of his death for a judge to decide that these six people, and only these six people, are the musician's legal heirs. But none of them has received any portion of their inheritance yet. Before that can happen, it must be determined how much the estate is worth.
The value of the estate at the time of Prince's death was estimated at around $200 million. While his family continues to wait, the IRS has collected an undisclosed amount of money from the estate as has the state of Minnesota, where Prince lived. The executor and its lawyers have collected over $5 million and have asked for nearly $3 million more.
Prince died on April 21, 2016. In the months following his death, more than 45 people claimed to be some relation to him and entitled to a share of his fortune. In May 2017, a judge ruled that his sister and five half-siblings are his legal heirs.
Probate, the legal process of settling a deceased person's estate, is sometimes mistakenly thought to be something that only happens when there is no will. Actually, all estates enter into probate, but the process is generally uncomplicated when the deceased left a will. When there is a will, probate is simply the process of validating the document and distributing the estate's assets based on the provisions of the will. Wills and estate planning can enable heirs to avoid complicated probate and the higher cost of a lengthy legal process.
SOURCE: Rolling Stone, 'Prince Estate: Sister, Five Half-Siblings Named Heirs," Daniel Kreps, May 19, 2017