Prince's estate is reportedly worth between $300 million and $500 million
As with Mick Jagger, Prince, beyond his status as a musical genius and consummate performer, was also lauded for his business acumen. As “Trial & Heirs” authors Danielle and Andy Mayoras noted for Forbes, Prince maintained and guarded ownership and control over the rights to his music, including the publishing rights, master recordings, performance royalties, and more. His vaults (that’s plural) are said to contain hundreds of unreleased songs and complete albums. (“I didn't always give the record companies the best song,” he confessed to Rolling Stone. “There are songs in the vault that no one's ever heard”).
But the stuff that has been heard is reportedly worth between $300 million and $500 million. Following his death at the age of 57, demand for his music surged by more than 16,000 percent.
But surprise followed the shock of his death with the news that Prince died intestate, meaning he had no known will, according to a petition filed with the Minnesota Probate Court filed by his sister, Tyka Nelson, one of his closest relatives (he has no living parents or known children). If Prince had completed estate planning, those documents have not yet surfaced. If it is established that Prince died without a will or a trust, his sister and half-siblings are on equal footing to inherit Prince’s estate under Minnesota law. -
Prince joins Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley and Amy Winehouse, who likewise passed before they made a will. In Hendrix’s case, the Mayorases note, everything passed to his father under New York intestate law. His father’s death triggered a protracted and expensive legal battle over who would control his legacy, brand and music. Hendrix’s adopted half-sister won this control. They had only met a couple of times before his death at the age of 27.
A majority of Affluent households have established a will, according to Spectrem Group wealth segment research, but the likelihood of having a will increases with wealth level and age. Sixty-eight percent of non-Millionaire households with a net worth of at least $100,000 (not including primary residence) indicate they have a will, compared with 84 percent of Millionaires with a net worth of up to $5 million, and 92 percent of Ultra High Net Worth households with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million.
The likelihood of receiving advice about establishing an estate plan likewise increases with wealth level, Spectrem Group research finds. Thirty-five percent of non-Millionaire households have received this advice from either their primary advisor or elsewhere, compared with 51 percent of Millionaires and 68 percent of Ultra High Net Worth households.
Estate planning, such as creating a will, is assurance for individuals that the assets they have built over their lifetime will be preserved and distributed according to their wishes. What Prince’s wishes were for his vast holdings cannot at present be known unless heretofore unknown documents surface. If not, the Mayoras’ wrote in Forbes, “His estate will be tied up in probate court for years, resulting in many millions of dollars being paid to attorneys, administrators, executors, and others. Even more distressing, Prince’s music, image, and likeness may be used in any number of ways that Prince may not have wanted, no matter how privately he guarded them when he was alive.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.