The daughter and granddaughter of a man who claimed during his lifetime to have been Prince’s half-brother asked a Minnesota state court Wednesday to recognize them as heirs to the late pop superstar’s multi-million-dollar estate.
Brianna and Victoria Nelson sought to intervene in ongoing probate proceedings with the Carver County District Court, stating that they are the heirs of the late Duane Nelson Sr., identified in their filings as the son of Prince’s father, John L. Nelson.
Throughout his life, Duane Nelson Sr. publicly referred to himself as Prince’s half-brother, and multiple press reports, including his 2011 obituary in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, did likewise. Prince died April 21.
After Prince’s death, however, his sister, Tyka Nelson, did not list Duane Nelson Sr. among Prince’s known heirs in her initial submission to the court.
On April 26, Tyka Nelson asked the court to appoint a special administrator to oversee his estate, saying her brother had apparently died without a will.
She identified herself and six half-siblings as heirs. Duane’s omission lead to speculation about family squabbling and rumors that he was not a blood relative.
According to one account in the Star-Tribune, published shortly after Duane’s death, he was the head of security at Prince’s Paisley Park compound for 12 years before the two men had a serious falling out.
In support of motions filed Wednesday, the Stoltmann Law Offices of Chicago submitted Duane Nelson Sr.’s Minnesota birth certificate, which lists John L. Nelson as his father.
“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.
The motion also contends that Prince publicly acknowledged Duane as his brother and quotes a public statement Tyka Nelson issued shortly after Duane’s death that refers to him as her brother.
According to the court filings, Duane Nelson Sr. had two children: Brianna Nelson, and Duane Joseph Nelson Jr., who died in 2009. The motion says that Brianna is Prince’s niece.
Victoria, a minor, is the daughter of Duane Nelson Jr. and Jeannine Halloran, according to the filings. She is Prince’s grand-niece, the motion says.
Under Minnesota law, because Prince died without a will, and because his parents are deceased and he has no spouse or surviving child, his estate is to be divided among his full and half-siblings.
Minnesota law also states that when a sibling who would have been entitled to inherit a portion of an estate is deceased, his or her heirs are entitled to inherit that portion themselves.
If the court finds that Duane Nelson Sr. is John L. Nelson’s son, that Brianna is Duane’s daughter, and that Victoria is Duane’s granddaughter, then Brianna and Victoria would split Duane’s share of the estate.
It is unclear why Tyka Nelson did not list Duane Nelson Sr. as a known heir of Prince’s estate.
“I’m not reading anything nefarious into it. It may have been an oversight,” Andrew Stoltmann, the attorney for Duane’s heirs, told Billboard earlier this week.
“There’s no animosity that I’m aware of – nothing material, nothing major,” Stoltmann added.
Attorneys for Tyka Nelson were contacted earlier in the week but did not respond to a request for comment on the case.