MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota probate judge overseeing the late Prince's estate has declared his six siblings are the heirs to the multiple millions of dollars he left behind.
In a ruling made public Friday, Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide declared that Prince Rogers Nelson died without a will and that his sister, Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings are his heirs.
Some would-be heirs, whose claims of heirship were rejected, have filed appeals. Eide said in his ruling that if the appellate courts send those cases back to him, he'll still fully consider them.
Eide also said Prince's assets won't be distributed without a formal court order and that nothing will be distributed that might adversely affect the claims of those with pending appeals.
The ruling marks a shift: Eide previously said he wouldn't declare the siblings as heirs until those appeals had been decided. Attorneys for those who appealed said their interests would be harmed if the district court didn't wait out the appeals process.
But lawyers for Prince's siblings didn't want to wait, saying further delays would have increased costs to the estate and impede its efficient administration.
Court filings suggest his estate is worth around $200 million, maybe more depending on the value of his musical legacy and his unreleased recordings. Because Prince did not leave a will, federal and state estate taxes are expected to consume about half the value.
Prince was found dead April 21, 2016, in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate in suburban Minneapolis. An autopsy report released in part found he died of an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl.
Soon after his death, his full sister, Tyka Nelson, filed paperwork with the court seeking to be named his heir and administrator of his estate. That didn't happen (two banks were named administrators) but at the time, Nelson listed her five half-siblings, Omarr Baker, Alfred Jackson, Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, and John R. Nelson, as potential heirs.
Since then, the estate has been tied up in probate court as dozens of would-be heirs (and their lawyers) sought to get a piece of the estate by claiming to be Prince's secret wife, secret child, secret sibling or some other more distant relation.
None of them have prevailed, so far, leaving the original six siblings to inherit whatever is left of the estate after taxes, lawyers' fees and administrative fees.
© 2017 Associated Press