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Prince estate hits probate court, singer's siblings named heirs

It seems celebrities are no more likely than others to have a will or estate plan in place. That was apparently the case for the internationally renowned artist known as Prince, who died just over a year ago.

Whenever someone dies without a will, any state where they own substantial property will still need to transfer the title to that property to an appropriate heir. (Only if there are no heirs whatsoever does the property revert to the estate.) The way that retitling is done is through a probate proceeding for what is known as an intestate estate. That simply means there is no known testament (will or estate plan).

Prince Nelson Rogers was survived by a sister and five half-siblings, and those six people were his closest relatives. In a three-page order released on Friday, a judge in Prince’s home state of Minnesota has ruled that the six siblings are his rightful heirs.

Based on a story by the Courthouse News Service, there appear to be other claimants. The judge in the case was careful to say that any claimants still in the appeals process will have a full opportunity to press their claims.

“No distribution of assets of the estate to the heirs shall be permitted without a formal order of this court, and no distribution to the heirs will be allowed that may adversely affect the claims of heirship properly before the Court of Appeals or the claims of those similarly situated to a person who has commenced an appeal,” reads the order.

That said, Prince’s siblings believe the probate process should move forward in order to avoid further delays that could be costly to the estate.

The next step, which may already be underway, is the estate’s personal representative, Comerica Bank, to make a listing of all the estate’s assets and debts. Comerica is also winding up some activities of Prince’s studio and production company, so far as they are tied up with Prince’s own activities.

For example, Comerica has made a motion to be allowed to cancel a deal with Universal Music Group. The $31-million deal was announced earlier this year, but now needs to be scuttled due to “claims of conflicting rights” to Prince’s recordings. The disposition of those rights is likely to be decided by the probate court itself. The motion will be heard on May 31.

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