When Prince (aka Prince Rogers Nelson) died, most people were shocked to learn that he did not have any documents in place that would keep his affairs private. When a celebrity wants to keep their affairs private, they usually employ the use of revocable trusts to ensure that their assets will remain hidden from the public eye upon their death. Unfortunately, when Prince passed away, he did not have a revocable trust. As we all know, his estate was forced to go through probate because of this.
What many people do not know about probate is that probate is a public court proceeding. Anyone can obtain documents from the Court file. Because Prince was domiciled in Carver County upon his death, the probate proceeding is taking place in Carver County. Carver County has set up a separate web page that you can access and review all of the documents filed in the case. A link to that page is below in this post.
Due to the complexity of the assets owned by Prince, and the numerous disputes among Prince’s heirs (and those claiming to be his heirs), the case is still ongoing.
What Prince may not have considered when he was living is that if your estate goes through probate, your personal representative (aka executor) must file an Inventory with the Court. This is a listing of all of your assets and their values as of the date of death. The purpose of the Inventory is to allow the beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors to see what assets are owned by the estate and this helps to ensure that the rightful individuals receive what they are legally entitled to.
If you would like to see the Inventory from the Prince Probate case, you can click here. The Inventory is interesting. One thing that stands out: Prince owned 67 – 10 oz gold bars worth $836,166.70. As a celebrity, a lot of Prince’s assets will be difficult to value. As such, you can also see that many of Prince's assets were subject to ongoing valuation at the time of the filing of the Inventory.
One other function of a probate proceeding is to ensure that assets do not go missing. As such, the personal representative must show how all assets have been liquidated, distributed, or spent on what is called a “Final Accounting”. For the Prince case, there will be several accountings provided, but if you are interested in the first one, you can click here click here. Notably, as of January of 2017, Prince’s estate had spent $5,488,243.49 on attorney’s fees alone.
While it is certainly interesting to get a glimpse into Prince’s otherwise private life, the lesson that everyone should learn from his case is that Probate is public. If you aren’t comfortable with your neighbors knowing what you owned when you die, it is a good idea to take steps to avoid probate. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment to discuss how you can avoid probate and keep things private for your family. If you would like to browse all of the documents filed in the Prince case, you can click here to do so.
Zach Wiegand is a Minnesota probate attorney and estate planning attorney and the owner of Gold Leaf Estate Planning, LLC. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is an estate planning law firm that also handles probate and trust administration in Minnesota. We serve the Twin Cities metropolitan area with a focus on estate planning for clients in Burnsville, Eagan, Savage, Prior Lake, Lakeville, Apple Valley, Eden Prairie and the South Metro as well as clients in Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Maplewood, Oakdale, St. Paul and the East Metro. Our firm has offices in both Burnsville and Woodbury (Lake Elmo). The firm also handles probate in Dakota County, Washington County, Scott County, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County and most other counties in the Twin Cities Metro area. Zach has been named a Super Lawyer – Rising Star for 2017, 2018, and 2019. In addition, Zach is a member of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, the Twin Cities Estate Planning Council, and WealthCounsel – a national organization of estate planning attorneys dedicated to practice excellence. You can contact Zach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (952) 658-6503. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is located in Burnsville at 3000 County Road 42 W., Suite 310, Burnsville, MN 55337 and in Woodbury/Lake Elmo at 8653 Eagle Point Boulevard, Lake Elmo, MN 55042.