Judge Denies Estate Claims of 29 Would-Be Prince Heirs
Prince's family just got a whole lot smaller.
A Minnesota state judge Friday (July 29) barred 29 people -- including five alleged children, 11 alleged siblings and 13 people claiming more distant family relationships -- from seeking a share of the late pop superstar’s multi-million dollar estate.
However, Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide allowed a possible niece and grandniece to continue to pursue their claims, saying they may submit to genetic testing to prove a blood relationship, as will Prince’s sister Tyka and three of Prince’s half-siblings.
When Prince died of a prescription drug overdose on April 21, he apparently left behind no will and so his estate will be distributed according to Minnesota probate and parentage law.
To facilitate that process, Bremer Trust, the court-appointed special administrator for the estate, established a protocol for evaluating claims of heirship, requiring claimants to first establish a case for their relationship and then submit to genetic testing.
In her initial probate filing, Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, listed herself and six half-siblings (one deceased) as known heirs. Prince’s parents, John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw, both died before he did.
Many others have come forward since then to claim a family relationship, including at least four alleged biological children and a fifth who claimed to have been adopted by the star.
The judge tossed out all five of these claims on Friday. Two of the purported children had been adopted by other parents, which severed any relationship to Prince even if he had been their biological father, the judge said. The other claimants lacked crucial documentary proof, according to the judge. Two alleged biological children failed to even provide an affidavit from their mother alleging a sexual relationship with Prince and the supposed adoptee offered no supporting paperwork.
Judge Eide looked no more favorably on the 11 people claiming to be Prince's siblings and half-siblings, including alleged half-sisters Darcell Gresham Johnston and Venita Jackson Leverette.
Each of these purported half-siblings said that they shared a father with Prince but that father was not John L. Nelson.
Under Minnesota law, John was presumed to be Prince’s father because he was listed on Prince's birth certificate and married to Prince's mother at the time of Prince's birth, the judge said. Prince was also listed as John's son on Prince's parents' divorce decree, and in court orders related to the settling of John's estate after he died in 2001.
The alleged siblings had waited too long to challenge the presumption that John was Prince's father, Judge Eide said. Aside from the siblings listed on Prince's probate filing, the only claimants to survive the judge's order were Brianna and Victoria Nelson, the daughter and granddaughter of the late Duane Nelson, Prince's alleged half-brother.
Brianna and Victoria had told the court that Prince not only had a close relationship with Duane, who served as head of security at Paisley Park in the '90s, but that John Nelson had acknowledged Duane as his son and Duane was listed as John's son in two obituaries: his own and Prince's half-sister Lorna's.
Judge Eide said that these allegations were credible enough to entitle Briana and Victoria, along with Tyka Nelson and the other surviving children of John L. Nelson, to undergo genetic testing.
Judge Eide's order did not mention two of Prince's half-brothers, Alfred Jackson and Omarr Baker, Mattie Shaw's children from other marriages. Presumably they will not require genetic testing to prove their relationship to Prince because they have the same mother.