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Maybe in a year or so we’ll be writing the final blog piece about the Prince estate. Maybe. Right now, though, a year after Prince’s tragic, so untimely death, about the only thing we can say with certainty is it can’t be much fun to be administrator of the his estate.
You may remember from an earlier post that administrator’s are appointed to represent an estate when there is no will. It’s still hard to believe that Prince, a very good businessman, never executed a will. That’s still unfathomable. As we’re sure it was to the probate judge in Minnesota handling the matter.
Administrating the Prince estate has to be somewhat of a nightmare. It also has so, so many lessons for everyone going through the probate process on any level.
It’s not the values. Prince’s estate is comprised of vast amounts of real estate, cash, business holdings. But that’s not what makes it complicated. It’s everything else.
There are at least a half-dozen potential heirs to the Prince estate. There could, potentially, be more. There could, potentially be less with a little more research by the court. In any event, most of them have their own ideas of how the estate should be managed while in probate. They each definitely have their own ideas of how it should be distributed when the estate is finally closed out. Few of these many ideas are compatible with each other.
That’s because Prince’s estate is in fact comprised principally of a very viable, fully functioning business. The business of music. Prince’s music earns millions and will continue to earn millions for many, many years. Prince will be releasing new music for another generation of fans – his vaults at his Paisley Palace mansion are chock full of never released songs.
Many of these songs were written, produced, and performed with other artists. The copyrights are potentially a never-ending quagmire.
Case in point, if you went on iTunes a few weeks ago, you could pre-order Deliverance, an EP of 6 unreleased Prince songs. It was being issued by a small record label in Vancouver, Canada, The company administrating the estate was informed about it by one of the potential heirs. They promptly moved for an injunction stopping the release.
They received it, but it’s very unclear if it will stand. The songs are (perhaps) a collaboration between Prince and his former engineer. There are more of these coming. Administrating this estate will always be about being vigilant that Prince’s unreleased music stays in the control of the estate. While managing the incredible volume of his past work as it’s sold, played on the radio and on streaming services.
It’s an estate with a million moving pieces. Again, the scale is … amazing … but aside that, it’s something we see almost every day.
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