Two more purported heirs of the late megastar Prince filed a motion in Carver County District Court on Wednesday to intervene in his $100 million-dollar-plus estate.
The potential heirs are Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson, the daughter and granddaughter, respectively, of the late Duane Nelson Sr., who was identified in court documents as one of Prince’s half-brothers.
Whether he was, however, is at issue.
When Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, sought a special administrator to oversee the estate after the musician’s death on April 21, she said no will had been found, which left distribution of the estate up to Minnesota law.
She listed herself and six half-siblings — one of whom was deceased and without children — as known “interested parties” to the estate. Without explanation, her petition left out the name of Duane Nelson Sr., who had identified himself publicly as one of Prince’s half-brothers. Some people who know the family have suggested that he was not a blood relative.
The motion filed on Wednesday, however, argues that Duane Nelson Sr. was in fact Prince’s half-brother, as they were both sired by John L. Nelson. Attorneys with the Stoltmann Law Offices in Chicago filed Minnesota birth certificates as proof.
“Throughout his life, John L. Nelson held himself out as Duane Nelson Sr.’s father, including giving Duane Nelson Sr. his last name, publicly acknowledging him as his son and raising him as his child,” the motion states.
It also says that Prince had acknowledged Duane Nelson Sr. as his brother and had employed him for years as head of security until the two had a falling out. The motion states that Tyka Nelson also had referred to Duane Nelson Sr. as her brother in a public statement after his death.
According to the court filings, Duane Nelson Sr. had two children: Brianna Nelson, who would be Prince’s niece, and the late Duane Joseph Nelson Jr., who would have been Prince’s nephew.
Duane Nelson Jr. and Jeannine Halloran have a surviving daughter, Victoria, 11, who would be a great-niece of Prince.
Under Minnesota law, the attorneys say, both Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson would be heirs. The law treats siblings and half-siblings equally. If Duane Nelson Sr. was a half-brother, he would get the same share as Prince’s other siblings.
Because he and his son are dead, Duane Nelson Sr.’s share would pass to Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson.
Prince’s half-sister Lorna Nelson is listed as an interested party, but because she had no children, she is not identified as an heir to the estate.
Attorneys representing the siblings and the estate have not responded to interview requests.
The initial legal notification in Carver County that Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson were potential heirs came from a letter filed May 11 on behalf of Victoria by attorney Michael Padden. He had represented Victoria’s mother in 2005, the year Duane Nelson Jr. died. Padden represented Duane Nelson Jr.’s estate, but the matter ended years ago, he said.
When he learned that Prince had died, Padden concluded that he had an ethical obligation to let the court know that Victoria may be a potential heir and that she needed either an attorney or a guardian ad litem.
In a letter to the court, Padden suggested another attorney, and said he didn’t plan on representing the girl. He had unsuccessfully tried to reach Victoria’s mother, he said, because she “could be a legitimate heir of an estate potentially valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“I’m happy for Brianna and Victoria,” Padden said Wednesday. “I accomplished my goal.”
Authority for genetic testing
Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide issued an order Wednesday giving Bremer Trust, the special administrator rounding up assets and managing the estate while it’s in probate, authority to establish genetic testing and documentary procedures to verify whether claimants are related to Prince.
Eide also granted the administrator’s request for broader authority to take depositions and conduct discovery procedures across state lines.
Eide noted that Bremer Trust has informed him that “various counsel and other individuals who have acted on behalf of Prince and his entities reside in California” and that law enforcement authorities also have sought computer and other records.
Staff writer Emma Nelson contributed to this report.