Let’s go crazy: what happened to the late musician Prince’s estate?

Paula Barlow, Head of Probate at ZEDRA, reminds us why it is so important to ensure that your clients have a professionally drafted Will in place 

Following his death in 2016, the late singer Prince left behind an estimated $300 million fortune which included several properties, stocks & shares, vehicles, chattels and a plethora of unreleased music. But what happened to Prince’s estate after he died?

It was soon established that he had failed to prepare a Will causing a legal battle that is still unresolved five years on.

During his lifetime, Prince was married and divorced twice and is not known to have any surviving children. His only relatives are his sister and five half-siblings. Within two weeks of his death, approximately 700 people all claiming to have some relation to the late singer came forward and attempted to put in a claim against his estate.

The 50 million dollar question

As expected, the majority of these claims were spurious and no evidence could be provided to support them; however, the estate began to incur costs for the time spent dealing with each of these claims. It is now estimated that the legal costs incurred as a result of this are over $50 million and are likely to increase further.

Prince owned many unique assets, several of which are copyrights or other intellectual property, and it is likely he knew who he wanted to participate in managing the assets after his death, but that information isn’t available.

This demonstrates the importance of having a professionally drafted Will clearly setting out who the Executor and Beneficiaries of the estate are.

Failure to do so can result in increased costs, conflict between family members and can result in someone benefitting from an estate who the deceased would not have chosen.

The choice of Executor determines much of what happens and even in much less valuable and complicated estates, that decision is critical.


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