Purple rain, family feuds and frozen accounts
By Rebecca McCarthy
The tragic death of singer songwriter Prince Rogers Nelson (better known as Prince) shocked the world, and many were further shocked to learn the Purple Rain legend had never written a Will.
The position in Minnesota (as in England) is that where there is no Will, the estate is distributed according to the laws of intestacy.
In Prince’s case, under Minnesota law, the beneficiaries are likely to be his sister Tyka Nelson, five living half siblings and one deceased half sibling. With this family arrangement, it is not difficult to foresee costly and time consuming disputes.
Even if the siblings agree everything amicably, there will still be additional costs including an application to the court for someone to be appointed an administrator (to carry out the role of executor) and determining who is entitled to the multi-million dollar estate.
Prince’s sister has already applied to the court for a “special administrator” (the Bremer Trust) to be appointed to manage the ongoing estate in the meantime, until a personal representative can be appointed. Of course, with the death of the artist came an influx of income, with 2.3 million songs purchased in just 3 days and Purple Rain even re-entering the top 10 in the Billboard Hot 100 last week. Without an administrator bank accounts are frozen and inaccessible and it is impossible to open an account in the name of the deceased without an authority.
Moral of the story: Intestacy costs; in terms of cold hard cash, in terms of time and in terms of stress and worry for those left behind to untangle the mess. For the sake of our families and those we leave behind, make a Will.
Rebecca McCarthy is a paralegal in the Private Client team at Barker Gotelee.