Published 31 May 2018
Author: Richele Nelsen
Prince's unexpected death rocked the world in 2016. The Purple Rain singer was just 57 when he died of an accidental drug overdose in Minnesota on April 21, and - like many famous faces in the entertainment industry - he didn't write a will.
More than two years have passed since Prince's death, so what has happened to the singer-songwriter's estimated US$200 million (AU$264 million) estate in the meantime?
Understanding intestacy laws
Most countries have intestacy laws that govern how an estate is distributed to relatives if the deceased failed to produce a valid will in their lifetime. The US and Australia both have intestacy laws that vary from state to state, although many courts handle these cases under a similar set of guidelines.
Intestacy legislation typically favours the deceased's spouse and children receiving the estate. However, Prince wasn't married at the time of his death and had no surviving children.
His estate should therefore pass to his siblings under Minnesota law, of which Prince had one full sister, two half-sisters and three-half brothers. All six will be entitled to an equal share of the estate because Minnesota does not discriminate between full and half siblings in succession cases.
Who has received the estate?
So far, none of the siblings have received an inheritance. According to the Associated Press (AP), Prince's assets can't be distributed until the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS) and the State of Minnesota decide how much his estate is worth.
While the siblings are split into two warring factions, their actions don't appear to be holding up the process. In fact, lawyers for three of the siblings have argued that the IRS and the State of Minnesota - which are entitled to approximately half of the fortune - are causing the problems.
"There is legitimate concern that at the end of the estate's administration there will be little, if anything, left to pass on to the heirs," the attorneys stated in a filing seen by AP.
Contesting a will in NSW
Two years may have passed since Prince died, but his estate could be tied up in the legal process for years to come.
A similar sequence of events is unlikely to affect intestate estates in NSW because of our state and tax laws work. Furthermore, most estates do not contain as many assets and are not as complex as Prince's. If you would like to discuss intestacy laws in NSW, or are considering contesting a will, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers.