The world remains shocked at the death of 57-year-old musical icon Prince – a passing that has left his $300 million fortune (a number likely to grow) in limbo. With no will to go by, Prince's family is urging the government to step in.
"I do not know of the existence of a Will and have no reason to believe that the Decedent executed testamentary documents in any form," wrote Tyka Nelson, Prince's sister, in court documents filed on April 26 in Carver County, Minnesota.
The award-winning and iconic singer was found dead at his Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, five days earlier.
Nelson's court filings are a petition for the state to open a probate case in the matter of the late singer's fortune and come after much speculation as to what would happen in the event that there was no will left behind. The documents also list her as an heir to Prince's estate.
In what she has called an "emergency," Prince's sister has requested that a special administrator be appointed to deal with the singer's assets. Specifically, documents ask that St. Paul-based Bremer Bank oversee all assets for the time being, adding that Prince worked "closely" with them for a number of years.
Minnesota's inheritance law says that if a resident dies without a will, as is the case with Prince, property will be handed over to the deceased's closest relatives. With spouses and children given first consideration, the law states that "property will descend in the following order: grandchildren, parents, brothers and sisters."
Nelson, who helped plan the When Doves Cry singer's memorial service, is Prince's only full-blooded sister and, as a result, his closest living relative.
The pair's parents, John Nelson and Mattie Della Shaw, died in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
Additionally, the Purple Rain performer has not been married since 2006. His only heir, Boy Gregory, died of complications related to Pfeiffer syndrome in 1996, just seven days after his birth.
Adding to an already complicated case, Prince and Nelson also have half-siblings through their parents' other marriages. They include John Nelson, Norrine Nelson, Sharon Nelson, Alfred Jackson and Omar Baker. All of them are listed in Nelson's petition as heirs.
For the time being, it has been confirmed that Nelson's petition for Bremer Bank to serve as temporary administrator over Prince's finances has been accepted. However, the bank will only manage the late legend's assets for a term of six months. The next steps will play out in court.
A Minnesota probate court judge is now tasked with wading through Nelson's filings and any subsequent claims to determine just exactly what will become of Prince's fortune.
Probate cases are often fully available to the public, meaning that much more could become known about Prince's relationships with his remaining family members. However, if deemed necessary, a judge could rule to seal sensitive documents.
Despite Nelson's petition, there is a possibility that the singer could have, in fact, formulated a trust that has yet to be discovered. Prince was a faithful Jehovah's Witness, causing some to speculate he may leave some of his fortune to the religion's Kingdom Halls.
Another twist that could cause problems for Prince's proclaimed heirs comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service. According to the IRS, any money not willed to a spouse or charity upon death is liable for taxation.
With amounts over $5,450,000 taxed at 40%, $120 million of Prince's fortune could be swallowed up by tax collectors.
As the feud for Prince's assets begins, many still wonder why such a prominent and wealthy figure would not prepare his finances for the event of tragedy.
Sources close to Prince suggest that while the singer commanded a lucrative and successful career, he held a strong distrust of contracts and legal documents.
In his life and career, Prince was publicly opposed to strict regulations imposed by record labels, describing a contract with Sony as "professional slavery." His opposition to much of the music industry's contracts led him to sign an exclusive deal with streaming service Tidal, a move that could continue to yield lucrative profits to the singer's estate.
Prince's assets up for grabs include his sprawling Minnesota estate complete with recording studio, his brand, music rights, loyalties and subsequent control of the thousands of unreleased tracks reportedly kept in his home.
Court documents show that a probate hearing in the case is scheduled for today, May 2.