A Minnesota judge appointed a special administrator to handle the assets and estate of superstar musician Prince, as his surviving siblings watched in a court hearing Monday.
Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide appointed Bremer Trust, National Association, with which Prince has done his banking for years, until an executor can be named to handle his affairs. Prince, 57, died April 21 at his home in Chanhassen, Minn., but no will has been found, leaving his relatives to determine the future of his estate.
"The court is not finding that there is no will, but that no will has yet been found," the judge said.
Last week Eide signed papers as petitioned by Prince's sister Tyka Nelson, his only full sibling, in order to preserve the estate, which could be worth more than $100 million, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Probate documents indicate that his half-siblings were the other heirs to the estate were half-siblings John Nelson (who did not attend the hearing), Norrine Nelson, Sharon Nelson, Alfred Jackson, Omarr Baker and the late Lorna Nelson, who died in 2006.
Frank Wheaton, an attorney for Jackson, said afterward that the siblings were cooperating in settling the estate.
"Everyone is in full accord," he said.
But even if all the siblings are cooperative, it will likely take a long time to settle the estate, Judith Younger, a University of Minnesota law professor who isn't involved in the case, told The Associated Press. Other claimants are likely to come forward, any disagreements with tax authorities over the value of the estate could result in litigation, and Minnesota courts haven't settled yet whether the rights to someone's likeness, such as Prince's, can be inherited.
"It a real mess that he left behind," she said.
It's also possible that a will could turn up and that it could lead to fights over its validity, Younger said.
"I find it so hard to believe," Younger said, noting how careful Prince was to keep control of his music and other business affairs. "How can there not be a will?"
Now that Bremer Trust has been appointed, the bank must look to see if a will did, in fact, exist; if there are any people alive who could claim to be his descendants; and for any assets, including bank accounts, royalties from his works or any music that is unreleased.
Already, someone has turned up to insert himself into the case. The bank filed a motion to dismiss a claim by an individual named Rodney Herachio Dixon, who says he is the "sole and exclusive owner of all intellectual properties" of the musician, USA Today reported. Bremer Trust called the claim "frivelous."
Eide did not set a date for future proceedings. But he noted the intense interest in the case, as reflected by the throng of media and lawyers inside and outside what would normally be a quiet suburban courtroom.
"We're not used to this much notoriety in Carver County," the judge said.