Prince's death could lead to 'messy litigation' says lawyer

A US attorney says that the death of Prince, believed to be worth around $300m, could lead to 'messy litigation' and potential probes by tax officials.

Laura Zwicker of Greenberg Glusker represents high net worth individuals and told Bloomberg that successful singers and their like are often too busy to sort out what should happen if they die.

“Their lives are so focused on non-financial issues; they are constantly moving, touring, playing games,” she said. “It’s really hard to get them to sit down and say, ‘Let’s talk about when you die.’ These people don’t like to think they are ever going to die.’

Heavy tax burden

Ms Zwicker said that the federal estate tax liability can be as much as 40 per cent of assets. The full tax burden can be avoided, she said, by either donating to charity or transferring assets to others while they’re living.

Asset division

Prince’s death at his home in Minnesota could affect how his assets are divided, as Minnesotan law dictates that, in the absence of a will, the estate goes to the following people in this order: “grandchildren, parents, brothers and sisters, or more distant relatives if there are no closer ones.” However, Prince’s parents have been dead for over a decade. He did have six siblings from the same father, but it’s unclear how close he was with those still alive (at least two have died). He was twice divorced and had reportedly had one child – a son – who tragically died one week after birth.

Unpaid fees

Whatever happens to his estate, Prince left a history of litigation that could have left at least one law firm with unpaid fees. Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler sued the singer for not paying his legal fees in connection to his divorce from his wife Manuela Testolini, claiming he owed more than $700,000. It was then reported that he paid $125,000, but still owed $700,000.

Sources: Bloomberg BNA; International Business Times

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