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Whatever Happened to Prince’s Estate

The Artist Formerly Known as Prince is proof positive dying without a will is just plain wrong. Four years after his April 21, 2016 death, heirs upped the ante in February by filing suit when his half-brother unexpectedly died. Estate administrators have been struggling to distribute his massive fortune since the singer passed away of a fentanyl overdose. As Prince would say, Let’s Go Crazy.

Pop Star Died Taking Fake Pill

The popular rhythm and blues performer died at his elaborate Paisley Park estate after taking a fake Vicodin tablet. The painkiller was illicitly laced with the killer opioid fentanyl, 50 times more powerful than heroin. Prosecutors concluded the death was accidental. Prince was addicted to painkillers but likely unaware the pill was counterfeit. Nor was there any evidence it was planted.

Music Museum Valuable Asset

Paisley Park, Prince Roger Nelson’s home, museum and music studio in Chanhassen, Minn., was his  most visible asset. The 65,000 square foot complex has been the site of public tours, concerts and impromptu events for almost 30 years. Prince sang about it in his 1985 song Paisley Park two years before it opened. The iconic structure surely helped put Minneapolis, where the five-foot-two pop star was born, on the fandom map.

Tour Recreates the Man and the Myth 

Tours of Paisley Park recreate Prince’s myth for his fans. Visitors see his personal archives, concert wardrobe and memorabilia. They can view his awards, instruments and art and listen to the star’s music and video recordings. Amazing though it may be, his vast holdings expose the dark underbelly of dying without a will.

Prince Left Enormous Estate 

A year after his death, independent recording studio RMA and co-producer Ian Boxill released six Prince tunes recorded between 2006 and 2008. They add to his huge collection of 68 albums produced in his lifetime. Prince sold more than 100 million recordings worldwide, tying with The Clash for 27th spot on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest artists of all time list. 

Calculating Prince’s Final Worth 

The profits keep rolling in. Warner Bros. released Piano & a Microphone 1983 in 2018 and Originals in 2019. The albums reached 11 and 15 respectively on Billboard’s music charts. The singer is rumoured to have a vault stashed with unreleased recordings. Given future royalties, sales and commercial rights, his final estate may be worth anywhere from $100 million to half a billion dollars.

Halfbrother’s Death New Estate Twist

Prince’s estate took on a new twist with halfbrother Alfred Jackson’s death. The childless sibling sold 90% of his rights to the star’s estate to New York entertainment company Primary Wave in 2019. Within hours, the 66-year-old died of heart disease. Primary Wave has joined the estate mashup in court.

LA Consultant Next in Line

Jackson, on the other hand, willed his personal estate to LA entertainment consultant Raffles van Exel. Van Exel is no ordinary heir. He befriended the drug-addicted Whitney Houston, blues singer Ray Charles and mega pop star Michael Jackson’s family. Prince’s siblings are contesting Exel’s and Primary Wave’s shares, arguing Jackson was vulnerable because he had schizophrenia and Parkinson’s. 

Fees and More Fees

Adding to the spectacle are massive legal and estate fees. Courthouse records show Prince’s estate paid out $7.3 million in fees and legal expenses by January 2019. They include fees to a bank administering the estate, an entertainment consultant and $3.8 million for legal bills. His heirs received $343,000 for legal services from the estate and spent hundreds of thousands more to pay their own lawyers. Siblings Tyke Nelson and Jackson owe liens on their estate shares totalling over $1.7 million.

Emancipating Prince’s Holdings

Entertainment attorney L. Londell McMillan, who represents Prince’s heirs, hopes the singer’s  estate will soon get its own Emancipation, like the pop star’s infamous 1996 three-disc album. Where it goes from here is yet to be seen.

Avoid Probate Delays With a Personal Will

No doubt Prince’s estate way exceeds your assets. Still, making a will is way cheaper than  probating an estate without one. Axess Law’s average legal client pays just $199 and up to commit their final wishes to writing. It’s usually smooth sailing from there.

No Will, No Peace of Mind 

Not having a will when you die complicates everything. Your personal property and possessions are considered intestate and your relatives may have to go to an Ontario probate court to get a certificate of appointment of estate trustee without a will. If you have no immediate heirs to fend for you, the Province of Ontario will take over. Why leave distributing your estate to chance when making a will can leave an enduring legacy? 

Use a Virtual Notary for Your Ontario Estate 

When you need a will or probate documents notarized, contact Axess Law’s Ontario notary publics. Our licensed lawyers and virtual notaries connect online via video conference 7 days a week, day or evening. Call 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form for your appointment. In person legal consultations are available at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.

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