Chaska - The Minnesota judge overseeing Prince's estate will wait for appeals to be exhausted before making a final determination on who will inherit a fortune that could be worth around $200m, he said at a hearing on Thursday.
But Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide also made it clear the late superstar's six confirmed siblings are the likely heirs. He already has rejected claims from several other people to be Prince's child, sibling or wife, and there are a couple more DNA tests pending, though he expects them to be rejected.
"The court cannot make a determination of who the heirs are until these appeals are exhausted," Eide said. That process typically takes several months or more.
Prince left no known will when he died in April of a painkiller overdose. Since he wasn't married and had no surviving children or parents, his siblings stand to inherit equal shares of his estate under Minnesota law.
Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, and his five half-siblings have asked Eide to declare that no will exists and formally name them as heirs. They also have asked the judge to hand control over the running of the estate from a temporary special administrator, Bremer Trust, to Comerica Bank and Trust. The judge did not immediately rule on that Thursday morning.
The court was scheduled to reconvene in the afternoon regarding whether Eide should appoint an individual as a "co-personal representative," or co-executor, to act in part as a go-between Prince's siblings and Comerica.
Prince's four older half-siblings, Sharon, Norrine and John Nelson, and Alfred Jackson, want entertainment lawyer L. Londell McMillan, who long represented the musician and is currently overseeing Prince's entertainment assets. Tyka Nelson and his younger half-brother, Omarr Baker, want one of their lawyers, Van Jones.
Noting the frictions among the siblings, Eide said he'll name a co-personal representative only if he thinks that person will help them and Comerica resolve the case as soon as possible.
"The court is not looking for someone who is going to seek headlines for themselves," he said.
Court filings suggest the estate is worth around $200m, though the value of many assets, including Prince's music, is still being tallied. The estate faces a 21 January deadline for filing its initial return with the Internal Revenue Service.
Federal and state estate taxes are expected to gobble up about half the value, although the estate can ask to make the payments over time.