The singer Prince died without a will - now what?


The rock star known as Prince died without a will or a trust.  Therefore the law will write his will for him.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Welcome back everybody. My name is Tom Olsen. The name of the show is Olsen on Law, every Saturday 11:00 AM. Right here on news 96.5. Chrissy, let’s take a few minutes to talk about Prince because everybody is talking about Prince’s death last week, very sad and tragic, of course.

Chrissy: Only 57 years old.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes, a young man. Yes, young man. And the unusual thing about Prince right now is that apparently, he died without a will. And so what happens now? I want to start by saying this. A lot of people still call me to say, “Tom, I want to have a will because I don’t want my money to go to the State of Florida.”  Well, that’s not true, if you don’t have a will, Florida statutes is going to write a will for you and the same thing for Minnesota.

Chrissy: Exactly.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Now we use the uniform probate code here in Florida like a lot of other States do. So I suspect that Minnesota, they are also using the uniform probate code. So I suspect that the same thing that would happen here in Florida would be happening in Minnesota.

Chrissy: Exactly.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. So when you pass away without a will, the statute say that it would be dictated what happens to your wealth through intestate succession. It tells you what happens and there’s really no big surprises there. It says if you are married it’s all going to your spouse. If you had no spouse, it’s going to your children. If you have no children it’s going to your parents. If you had no parents it’s going to your brothers and sisters. So Prince had no spouse, had no children. I assume his parents are deceased because they are not talking about him.

Chrissy: Correct.

Attorney Tom Olsen: So that leaves his siblings. So then the interesting thing about it is that Prince only has one full-sibling -- a sister, and has several half-siblings. So how does it get split between full-sibling and half-sibling? Well, in fact the intestate succession statute, answers that question for us and it says that, a full-blood will get twice as much as a half-blood. Stated in other way, his half-siblings will get one-half the amount that his full-sibling will get.

Chrissy: Exactly, and if he would have had a will or if they find a will, but right now intestate succession means that, that may not have been his wishes. He may have wanted all of his siblings to get something equally but what the way it is now, they will not.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes, the – I think I also heard about maybe a niece stepping in and by the way, if Prince had any siblings who are deceased, whether they are half or full, the children of that deceased sibling would take in place of the parent. So that maybe how a niece may be get in on it.

Chrissy: Exactly. And the sister from what we understand, his sister has opened up a probate in the State of Minnesota.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. So once you open up a probate, what you do is you give noticed to all the heirs and all the potential heirs, usually by certified mail, they know that it is going on, but usually there is a period of three months in which anybody who has a will or Trust for Prince, would have an opportunity to step in and say, “Wait a minute, that’s not how things are going down. Here is Prince’s will. Here is Prince’s Trust.” They have a period of three months to get that filed and use that instead, if they find such a thing.

Chrissy: Thank you, Tom. Yes, and I think that’s where maybe people are a little unclear but if there is something or a document out there, they would have that opportunity to bring that forward. If not, it would proceed and like you always tell people, “Hey that means then you are leaving it up to the judge and the court to make the plan and actually determine whose going to be in charge.”

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes. By the way, we are always talking about people avoiding probate because it’s so expensive. Florida statute’s recommends an attorney fee of 3% of the Estate for attorney fees. 3% of $300 million? I’d like to do the math on that.