Judge Kevin Eide ruled to deny a request by Prince’s heirs to limit Comerica Bank & Trust powers over the administration of the late funk legend’s estate. The ruling was in response to a joint filing earlier this month by Prince’s six heirs — Prince’s full sister Tyka Nelson, his half brother’s Omarr Baker, Alfred Jackson, John R. Nelson, and his half sisters Sharon and Norrine Nelson — who pleaded with the court to permanently limit the bank’s control over the estate’s assets.
Sharon Nelson, Prince’s half-sister, told Billboard prior to the ruling that the infighting between the heirs and Comerica Bank & Trust, which is administrating Prince’s estate, has resulted in thousands of court filings and racked up millions of dollars in legal fees, without any money or real estate assets being distributed to the late artist’s beneficiaries. Nelson said the heirs filed their motion April 18 with court saying the bank’s powers are not curbed, she predicts, “Prince’s estate will be bankrupt by the end of the year.”
The heirs had asked the court to limit the bank’s authority to make deals for a period longer than a year and to only allow them to administer assets that existed before Prince’s death. They also wanted access to hear the “vault” recordings, full participation in all tax related matters, and the ability to establish within the next two months a transition plan so they could appoint another representative instead of Comerica.
Ultimately, though, Eide decided that the heirs presented “little or no specificity” and until the heirs come up with some “viable alternative” that Comerica arrangement will stay in place. He also berated the heirs in his opinion saying if they keep bringing up this issue without a concrete solution the court will view further discussion the issue “with a leaning toward limiting the authority of the Heirs to participate in the administration of this Estate, not limiting the authority of [Comerica Bank].
“While the Court certainly appreciates the Heirs’ concerns with respect to preserving estate assets, minimizing estate exposes and planning for distributions, those concerns are more effectively addressed through discourse and mediation,” Eide ruled.
Eide said while he understand that the Heirs want to reduce expenses he said their motions have the opposite effect of “significantly increasing Estate expenses.” He said that reducing Comerica’s broad authority would “create a vacuum of uncertainty” and “may result in the loss of entertainment deal opportunities, which are necessary to raise needed funds to pay estate taxes and lead to the distribution of funds to the Heirs.” He also noted that Comerica bank agreed to reduce their monthly compensation from $125,000 to $110,00 not including expenses.
The judge also ordered that it would require Comerica to keep the heirs informed of IRS and Minnesota Department of Revenue decisions regarding the exact amount of outstanding tax liability. He also said it would be appropriate for Troy Carter, a former global head of creator services at Spotify who was hired by the bank as the estate’s entertainment advisor, to discuss with Heirs the plans for distribution of the contents of the vault.
The judge also said he was also “still smarting from the alleged intentional and outrageous violation of the rules of non-disclosure” by the court appointed representative of the Heirs after some confidential information was leaked.
A statement from Sharon Nelson reads: “We are continued to be dismayed and disappointed in the Judge Eide partially to Comerica and their advisors who have done a poor job managing this estate.”