Five people who claimed to be Prince Nelson’s half-siblings have no basis for their claims, according to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The five people did not trace their lineage through John Nelson, who was married to Mattie Shaw at the time of Prince’s birth in 1958, and Carver County DIstrict Judge Kevin Eide had allowed their claims. But the appeals court ruled that John Nelson was Prince’s genetic father per state probate laws, so any Prince heirs must trace their lineage through John.

In July 2016 — three months after the singer’s death — Judge Eide threw out the claims of twenty-nine claimed heirs.

Common Testamentary Issues

Prince’s sudden intestate (without a will) death cast light on two issues that affect many people who die without wills.

In most cases, stepchildren have no inheritance rights whatsoever, and remote relatives, such as nieces and nephews, have only limited rights. These concerns are especially acute for individuals who want these people to have significant succession responsibilities in a family business.

A will can set the class of people who are to inherit property, and typically, a will can also designate specific bequests. If done properly, such delineations are almost impossible to successfully challenge, so there is little possibility of protracted litigation that no one really wants.

In 2016, the year of his death, Prince sold more albums than any other artist in the world, even Adele. Because of the probate proceedings, no one is sure where these funds will go, and the heirs need this money.

Most of us will probably not sell 2.3 million albums and 5.4 million digital downloads, but most decedents do own houses. If the heirs cannot agree 100 percent as to distribution, and there is no will, a judge might well order the house to be liquidated and the proceeds divided. Once again, that’s an outcome that no one wants.

A will can make specific provisions about real estate ownership percentages. Moreover, a will can also set parameters for disposition. For example, a relative caregiver could have a life estate and then the property could be sold.

Almost two-thirds of Americans do not have current wills.

Estate Planning Basics

In as little as one office visit, an experienced attorney can prepare an estate planning bundle that protects your family both financially and emotionally.

  • Will: Most states, including Washington, have very specific rules in terms of executing testamentary documents, so many do-it-yourself wills may be unenforceable.
  • Trust: Assets that pass through a living trust do not go through probate court, streamlining the process at a time when it is very important to do so.
  • Power of Attorney: These designations can be temporary or permanent. If the directive includes a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, local hospitals should receive copies in advance.

It’s important to keep the originals in a secure yet readily accessible location. Moreover, it is usually a good idea to physically destroy any old wills or other documents in order to avoid confusion.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

There is really no excuse for not having a comprehensive estate plan. For a confidential consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Kent, contact the Law Offices of Dan Kellogg PLLC. We offer very reasonable rates.