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It's becoming ever clearer what happens when a multi-million-dollar estate like Prince's is up for grabs: Would-be "heirs" come romping out of the shadows.
If one believes the documents filed this week with the Carver County, Minn., court overseeing the distribution of Prince's estate, he had far more secret children, unknown siblings and distant cousins than anyone dreamed.
So far, no will setting out Prince's wishes for distributing his estate has been found. He had no spouse, no known surviving children and both his parents are dead.
Now, in addition to his one full sister, Tyka Nelson, his half-dozen known half-siblings or their descendants, and a federal prison inmate who claims he is a previously unknown son, come more claimants:
"A friend of my (adoptive) father told me...my mother had multiple sexual partners and Prince's name was mentioned," she says in her document "I inferred from these conversations that my mother had sex with Prince. I believe that I may be the daughter of Prince."
In other words, Prince's way distant cousins have stepped up to claim a cut of his estate, which may be worth as much as $300 million and is growing by the day since his April 21 death at Paisley Park in Carver County outside Minneapolis.
This latter group of claimants probably will get nowhere, says Laura Zwicker, a trusts and estates attorney for a major firm in Los Angeles. She says Minnesota law, like California law, bars such remote relatives from inheriting.
"The statute says 'closest living relatives' and stops there," she says. "So people who claim a more remote relationship to him are cut out by statute. The more interesting claims are the ones from people who claim to be a child, but they can be decided by genetic testing." (She was skeptical of Walker's claim to be a daughter of Prince just based on their ages.)
Zwicker reiterates what many estates attorneys have been saying since Prince died: He should have drawn up a will.
"If he had a well-written estate plan, it could have eliminated all the expense and nonsense going on now," she says. "His estate plan could have included an intentional omission clause: 'These are the people I provide for and I intentionally deprive anyone else who claims to be an heir.' "
Zwicker says the failure to draw up an estate plan happens among some of her clients, especially in sports or the entertainment industry.
"My rich clients who are entrepreneurs, real-estate developers, hedge-fund creators, they're all business people and they understand the need to plan," she says. "Where I have fears about this happening is our clients who are professional athletes and in the entertainment industry. Their skill set is often completely different than planning ahead.
"There are times where we cannot bring a client to the finish line — they can't get over some hurdle" to sign the papers.
Meanwhile, because there is no will, more than half the value of Prince's estate could end up with the IRS (40% of estates over $5.4 million) and the state of Minnesota (16% of estates over $1.6 million). The deadline for sorting out the tax bills is in January, and Uncle Sam takes only cash.
The estate special administrator, Bremer Trust, has to find that cash, and also sort out claims on the estate from creditors, such as the treasurer of Eighth Day Sound Systems, who claims that Prince owes her $256,010.89 for audio services at Paisley Park not paid for.
A California man claims Prince promised to leave him $1 billion. And several other petitioners filed written claims that are rambling and incoherent to the point of impenetrable. But they're all in the file, filling up boxes in the Carver County court clerk's office.
The deadline for filing as a potential heir and submitting proof, thus becoming eligible for DNA testing, was June 10; many of these new claims were filed Tuesday, so it's not clear whether they will be considered.
The next court hearing on the estate, before Judge Kevin Eide, is set for June 27.
Meanwhile, Bremer Trust is exploring ways to manage and monetize the estate to raise more money to help pay the tax bills. One of their ideas: Open up Paisley Park for public tours.