The special administrator charged with shepherding Prince’s $100 million-plus estate will be allowed to hire entertainment industry experts to help manage and protect the late megastar’s assets.
In an order filed Wednesday in Carver County District Court, Judge Kevin Eide ruled that Bremer Trust may hire and retain “identified entertainment industry experts” through Nov. 2, the day that its role overseeing and managing the estate is set to expire.
“There are business-related decisions which need to be made promptly on behalf of the Estate and the Special Administrator needs the advice of industry experts to make these decisions in a prudent manner,” Eide wrote.
The decision comes as the court sorts through the long and potentially complicated issue of who stands to inherit the estate.
Prince was found dead April 21 at his Paisley Park complex in Chanhassen from an accidental overdose of a powerful opioid known as fentanyl. He left no known will. If no will is found, under Minnesota law, any children would inherit the estate. If Prince had no living children, it will go to his siblings.
Eide issued the order a day after holding an emergency hearing to address the matter at the request of Bremer Trust, which was appointed in April to manage Prince’s estate. Counsel for the nine alleged heirs who have registered attorneys participated via teleconference.
Douglas Peterson, an attorney for Bremer, said at the hearing that experts are needed not only to protect the estate’s assets, which include intellectual property and Prince’s Paisley Park complex, but also to build on them. Early next year, taxes due on the estate could exceed $100 million.
But in a motion filed last week, Carlin Q. Williams, a 39-year-old prisoner who claims to be Prince’s son, raised concerns about experts being hired before lawful heirs are determined.
Williams, the only potential heir to officially object to Bremer’s request, has been approved to undergo genetic testing, his attorney, Patrick Cousins, said at the hearing. If Williams is indeed Prince’s son, he could be sole heir to the estate.
In his ruling Wednesday, Eide noted Williams’ argument but said that it will take a long time for the court to determine the legal heirs. Even when that issue has been decided, the heirs “will not likely be in a position to immediately assume the administration of the Estate,” the judge wrote.
Eide also acknowledged Bremer’s concerns over tax obligations and looming decisions about the estate’s future.
Potential heirs must have the opportunity to review agreements beyond Nov. 2. In a memorandum at the end of his order, Eide wrote that contracts that Bremer has entered into will likely be renewed “well before” that date if in the best interest of the estate.
“However, it is the Court’s hope that, by that time, we will have a better idea of who the likely heirs at law are,” he wrote, “and they can be more involved in the continuation of the services of Bremer Trust as well as the entertainment industry experts.”