Judge: Trust company can hire experts in Prince estate case
A Minnesota judge on Wednesday authorized the trust company that's overseeing Prince's estate to hire entertainment industry experts to help manage and preserve the deceased superstar's musical legacy while the court sorts out who's entitled to inherit his estate.
Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide turned down a request by Carlin Q. Williams, a Colorado prison inmate who claims to be Prince's son, to go slow until the court determines who Prince's legal heirs are. No will has surfaced since Prince died at his Paisley Park studio complex April 21 from an accidental overdose of the narcotic painkiller fentanyl.
Eide wrote that he intends for Bremer Trust "to take all prudent steps" to generate money from Prince's intellectual property, so that it can raise funds for administering the estate and for paying what's expected to be a hefty tax bill that'll come due in January. Therefore, the judge said, the company needs advice from industry experts to make the necessary business decisions promptly.
During a telephone hearing Tuesday, Bremer Trust attorney Doug Peterson said Prince's fortune could be worth up to $300 million.
Assuming no will is found, Williams could be the sole heir if DNA testing confirms he's Prince's son. Otherwise, since Prince's parents are both dead, the first in line to inherit under Minnesota law would be Prince's full sister, Tyka Nelson, and several half-siblings. Nine claimants have registered attorneys so far. Filings by other people hoping to get a piece of the estate continue to trickle in, and the court has not yet set a deadline for submitting them.
While Eide agreed with Williams that the court and Bremer Trust, which is acting as temporary special administrator, may have a much better idea in 60 days of who Prince's heirs are, he said a final legal determination will likely take much longer, and there may be appeals. He added that even when the heir or heirs are determined, they probably won't be able to immediately assume control over the estate, so the services of Bremer Trust or a similar company will still be needed.
The judge on Monday approved an extensive protocol for DNA testing and other documentation for people claiming a familial relationship with Prince.
The next hearing is June 27 in the Minneapolis suburb of Chaska.
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