Despite the fact that both my wife and I are lawyers, we don’t have a will. We talk about it all the time, and we make plans to write one a dozen times every year, but I am dumb. I am a superstitious person who believes that everything happens for a reason, and if I were to make a will, I’d jinx myself and die. Fortunately, intestacy laws appropriately distribute my assets in the events of my death: Basically, half goes to my wife, and the rest goes to my children. Of course, if my wife and I die simultaneously, there’s probably a decent chance my kids end up with my mother, who I haven’t spoken to in a decade and who my children have never met.
It’d be awkward for everyone, and terrible for my children (seriously, I have to write a will).
That’s sort of what’s facing Prince’e estate right now. He didn’t leave a will, so under Minnesota law, his entire estate is split evenly among his six siblings, whether they are full siblings or half siblings. Did you know that Prince had a lot of half-siblings? Five, to be exact. However, he has only one full sibling, Tyka Nelson. She feels that she should get a larger share of Prince’s estate. Under Minnesota law, she typically would not — full and half siblings get the same share.
Guess who is not happy about that?.
Right now, the family is headed to probate court to sort out this mess, and it’s going to be a huge one with six siblings — who probably had varying degrees of a relationship with Prince — all fighting over their equal right not only in the financial assets of Prince and Paisley Park, but over the rights to make decisions on behalf of Prince’s estate, which you may have heard has enough unreleased material remaining to release one album every year for the rest of the century.
It’s going to get ugly. Decisions that Prince may not have intended will probably be made. Siblings who were close to Prince will be fighting with siblings who were not close to Prince.
This is why it’s a good idea to make a will, especially if you have $300 million in assets and a legacy to protect. After all, you’d have to have that evangelical fifth half brother that Prince probably only met at family reunions giving the rights to “Purple Rain” away to the Ted Cruz campaign.