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Prince's estate administration and probate disputes continue

The estate of superstar Prince continues to take twists and turns that would have been nonexistent had he simply prepared a last will and testament. That document would have given specifics and would have identified the specific heirs and their inheritance percentages. Without the estate planning, the entertainer's fortune has been mostly up for grabs in an estate administration and probate circus that has shocked his fans and the public worldwide, including here in Georgia.

The latest twist is the claim of the heirs of Duane Nelson, Sr., a deceased 'family member.' Nelson was a permanent fixture in the lives of Prince and Prince's father, John L. Nelson. The father told others that Duane was his son. Prince reportedly viewed Duane to be his brother. Duane's heirs are now asking the court to award them their father's share of Prince's $300 million estate.

The probate judge has ruled that there are six heirs approved to date. They are Prince's full-blooded sister and his five half-siblings. The judge recently held a hearing on whether there is legal justification to allow Duane's heirs to go forward with their claim. The case would have been relatively easy if there was genetic proof that Duane was in fact another of Prince's siblings. However, that kind of proof may not exist.

What exists is the evidence of Duane being held in regard as a member of the family. The judge therefore faces a daunting task in this estate administration and probate issue. If he ultimately rules in favor of the heirs of Duane, there is likely to be an appeal on the issue of there being no genetic proof of the relationship. Presently, however, the issue is whether the purported heirs of Duane Nelson have a preliminary right to go forward with their claims, which is the kind of issue that is more safely decided by allowing the matter to proceed. Without a will and other estate planning documents, the same procedures would apply in Georgia were a probate court faced with a similar fact situation.    

Source:, "Family of Prince's 'Brother' Duane Nelson Sr. Fights for Piece of $300M Estate", Keith Harris, Oct. 21, 2016

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