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Minnesota judge to hold 2nd hearing in Prince estate case

  • FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2007 file photo, Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. Stevie Wonder, Faith Evans, Aloe Blacc and Eric Benet paid tribute to Prince with words and music at a public memorial Friday, May 6, 2016 in Los Angeles. Thousands of Prince fans gathered in front of Los Angeles City Hall for the celebration, where the entertainers performed songs from Princes vast catalog. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused his unexpected death last month at age 57. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

MINNEAPOLIS >> A hearing will be held in suburban Minneapolis regarding the procedures for determining who stands to inherit part of Prince’s estate. Prince died in April of an accidental drug overdose, and no will has been found. The twice-divorced musician’s parents are dead and he didn’t have any known children, but he left behind a sister and at least five half-siblings. Others also have come forward to claim he was related to them.

Here’s a look at some of the issues likely to come up during Monday’s hearing in Chaska:


Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide called the second hearing of the case for the narrow purpose of discussing issues related to the protocols for determining who is an heir, including how DNA testing will be conducted. A DNA test has already ruled out a Colorado prison inmate who had claimed to be Prince’s son, according to a person who saw a sealed document and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to release the information. However, several other people have emerged to say he was their father, sibling, half-sibling or more distant relative. The hearing will not determine if any individual is a legal heir — that will be the subject of future proceedings. Claimants will have the chance to raise objections during Monday’s hearing.


Under Minnesota law, children come first if there is no will. If there are no parents, siblings come next. That means Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, and at least five half-siblings stand to share in the estate, which special administrator Bremer Trust has said could be worth up to $300 million. Other potential heirs include Brianna Nelson and a minor identified as V.N. They claim to be Prince’s niece and grandniece because they’re descendants of the late Duane Nelson Sr., who has been widely described as Prince’s half-brother. Court filings hint, but don’t explicitly say, that Duane Nelson might not have been a blood relative. But their attorneys say Prince’s father raised Duane Sr. and that Prince considered him a sibling. And they argue that counts under Minnesota’s parentage law, qualifying them to inherit Duane Sr.’s share.


The judge has closed the hearing to cameras, microphones and sketch artists, saying Minnesota doesn’t allow video or audio coverage of paternity-related proceedings. Bremer Trust’s lawyers have said the potential heirs don’t want to have “their sensitive family histories … broadcast to the world.” While media and the public will be allowed in, Eide has reserved the right to remove them if he has to address paternity questions involving specific people. Several news organizations have objected, but Eide said he would not allow them to intervene in Monday’s hearing.


Bremer Trust chose L. Londell McMillan, a longtime Prince attorney, and music executive Charles A. Koppelman to manage Prince’s entertainment assets while the court sorts out his estate. The future of Paisley Park, the home and studio complex in Chanhassen where Prince died, is expected to be part of that process. Long before he died, Prince told close friends he wanted to turn it into a museum, so the estate managers will explore opening up Paisley Park as a tourist attraction. The final decision will be up to the legal heirs.

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