Prince’s Intestate Death: How No Estate Plan Created Chaos

If we’ve learned anything from the musician Prince’s passing back on April 21, 2016, it’s how much disarray he left for his siblings, a possible love child, and subsequently the Minneapolis court system by not leaving behind a well-prepared estate plan – not even so much as a napkin with names and bequeathed fortunes on it.

The good news is there will still be a plan for Prince Rogers Nelson’s $250 million estate, but now the State of Minnesota gets to decide how his fortune gets divided between his one full sister, five half brothers and sisters, and an alleged adult child, who has since been ruled out after taking and failing a DNA test to verify the paternity claim.

How Bad of a Mess Did Prince Leave his Family in?

Prince's Intestate Death: How No Estate Plan Created Chaos

Here’s a small, but pretty adequate list of some of the hardships that will come as a result of Prince’s not having put an estate plan together:1

  • Well, right off the top the federal government will take $100 for estate tax. That could have been easily avoided, if Prince had done some diligent estate planning.
  • Now, not only will Prince’s estate be divided among the siblings he loved and cared for, but the ones he was estranged from and may have had differences with. Like it or not, Minnesota treats half and full siblings alike. Plus, his fortune may be split equally with a son he never knew.
  • Fortunately, for his siblings, Prince has no known living parents or grandchildren, because that’s who would have inherited his estate first, according to Minnesota law.
  • However, to add to the misery of uncertainty, the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall church in Chanhassen may put up a battle for Prince’s estate as well. He allegedly converted to the religion in 2001 and attended there up till his death.2
  • Prince was married twice; once from 1996 to 1999 to backing dancer Mayte Garcia who bore him a son, who died only one week after the birth; and a second time to Manuela Testolini from 2004 to 2006. Both marriages ended in divorce.

How Do Estate Plans Cut Down on Needless Chaos?

Without an estate plan your family is left with very little control over the decision making process of handling your affairs. Think of it as much about planning for your heirs and the care of your estate as it is about leaving certain people out of an estate. An estate plan will not only limit future will battles, but any possible disputes that you can foresee as a result of knowing the unique and disagreeable nature of certain relatives.

Here are a few other areas that will leave the family feeling drama-free from by planning a Prince-sized estate properly:

  • Naming a family executor(s).
  • Prevent creditors from seizing your assets.
  • Prevent predators from scamming your intended inheritors.
  • Establishing trusts for minors and irresponsible family members.
  • Prevent the government from taking a big tax cut from your assets.
  • Establish a foundation trust for an enterprise.
  • Establish a charitable trust for a church, library, art museum, school or any non-profit organization.
  • Establish an irrevocable life insurance trust for the foundation founder, which would provide income to the founder as well as life insurance that gets passed on to their family upon death.
  • Set up an intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) for moving assets to future generations. No gift tax or estate tax here.

Contact the Pueblo Estate Planning Lawyers at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth

Once you’ve set up an estate plan, it’s wise to revise it on a regular basis with your estate planners. Why wait before it’s too late, let the trusted Pueblo Estate Planning Lawyers at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth provide you with the highest quality estate planning services available. Experienced and respected, our Pueblo lawyers have been dedicated to helping our clients navigate the complexities of estate planning, living wills and testaments, and other important legal issues since 1972.

Let’s meet to discuss how our estate planning services can benefit you and your family. You can contact us by calling (719) 556- 8844 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.

From our offices based in Pueblo, we represent clients in Trinidad, La Jara, Lamar, Walsenburg, Alamosa as well as all over the state.


1“The many missed opportunities of Prince’s estate” published in Financial Planning, May 2016.

2“Unmarried with no children, so will Jehovah’s Witnesses church or Prince’s family inherit his $300m fortune, sprawling Minnesota mansion and ‘enough unreleased music to last a century’” published in the DailyMail, August 2016.