By Steven R. Latterell, Ice Miller LLP
As an Indiana estate planning attorney who was born and raised in Minnesota, I have watched the administration of Prince Rogers Nelson’s estate from a distance with great interest. Prince, of course, is a music icon who passed away in April 2016 without an estate plan, and from all accounts in the news media, the administration of his estate has been extremely complex.
At the outset, the estate’s administrator dealt with claims by multiple individuals that Prince was their father. In addition, the administrator had to handle complex assets, such as Prince’s Paisley Park home (which now offers public tours) and the rights to his music. Concerning Prince’s unreleased recordings, it has been reported that in February 2018, the administrator entered into an estimated $31 million contract to sell rights to those assets to Universal Music Group and that the estate received payment in full as a distribution advance. Unfortunately for the administrator and estate beneficiaries, a contract dispute later arose between Warner Bros. and Universal regarding the rights that were sold. Subsequently, the $31 million contract was rescinded by the local judge, and the estate will have to refund the money to Universal. The judge did not address the merits of the contract dispute but instead rescinded the contract so as to avoid further litigation, and the judge directed the estate to proceed cautiously to preserve the assets.
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