It has now been almost three years since the world lost the musical genius, legend and icon known as Prince, but his estimated $200 million estate remains mired in all kinds of drama, with his heirs yet to see one dime.
It’s a sad state of affairs (pun intended) caused in great part, according to financial experts, by the fact that Prince died at his Paisley Park estate from an accidental opioid overdose without having a will.
When people die without a will, it is up to courts and estate administrators (usually law firms in this instance) to first determine an estate’s value. That can take years, especially when it involves an estate with the kind of assets (including money, homes, land, music masters, and more) that Prince appeared to own just at face value.
Of course, while Prince’s heirs, his six brothers and sisters, may not be getting paper, at least one group is definitely getting paid: the lawyers.
As USA Today reports, according to court papers filed by the heirs in hopes of gaining more control over spending, estate administrators have “spent $45 million, including $10 million in legal fees.”
As the newspaper notes:
... platoons of lawyers have been working on it for three years, racking up bills, arguing with each other, arguing with the heirs, arguing with consultants hired to advise on various estate matters, and filing blizzards of documents and paperwork with the Carver County [, Minn., ] probate court, which has made little progress in its mission to sort all this.
Many people, including many black people, even famous ones (Aretha Franklin was recently revealed to have had no will when she died in August), die without having put down on paper how they want whatever they own to be divvied up.
Writing a will can certainly seem a macabre exercise that really no one wants to indulge, no matter their status in life, rich or poor, famous or not. As University of Minnesota law professor Judith Younger opined of Prince to USA Today regarding his lack of a will: “He probably didn’t like to think about that.”
But for loved ones left behind without a will, not having one can really add to the pain of their loss.