When Prince died without leaving a will his estate became subject to the requirements of the probate court. One of the first things the probate court asks for is an inventory of one's assets. The value of an estate has to be established, and this is done by having a professional appraiser (called a probate referee) assign a dollar value to the deceased person's real estate and personal property. This inventory of personal and real property, along with its corresponding values is known as the "Inventory and Appraisal" and must be submitted to the court in every probate.
In Prince’s case the company overseeing his estate has only begun to submit the asset inventory to the Carver County District Court. Much of the estate value hasn’t yet been established.
Part of the reason for the partial inventory and appraisal is due to the complexity of assessing Prince's vast estate. Prince kept unreleased recordings and videos in his personal vault and owned several companies that have yet to be valued. In addition, personal effects such as his motorcycles, a 2006 Bentley, jewelry, musical instruments and many more items have not been appraised.
What property is on Prince's Inventory and Appraisal so far?
- Real estate worth approximately $25 million
- Cash in 4 bank accounts
- Gold bars
In Prince’s case the Bremer Trust has thus far been overseeing his estate as Special Administrator. The Administrator (called the executor when a will exists) is responsible for compiling and submitting the Inventory and Appraisal, along with the assistance of his/her attorney.
This aspect of dealing with the assets of a probate is just one of the responsibilities of the representative to the court. Other responsibilities include the payment of debts, taxes and liabilities of the estate and the distribution of the remaining assets to the persons entitled to receive them.
Why is it taking so long to submit a completed Inventory and Appraisal for Prince's Estate?
As outlined above, part of the reason for this is the complexity and extent of Prince's assets. Another reason is that Bremer Trust has reportedly asked to resign their position as Special Administrator and as such, the Minnesota court is in the middle of choosing a new Administrator for Prince's estate. -
The appointment of a new Administrator has sparked yet more litigation in an already complicated probate, with Prince's siblings in disagreement with who should be appointed. One proposed Administrator is New York entertainment attorney L. Londell McMillan, who represented Michael Jackson's mother in his estate. Filings by Randy Jackson assert that McMillan did not act in Katherine Jackson's best interest at all times, but was interested in personal financial gain instead. Furthermore, McMillan already gets a 10% cut of contracts signed by the estate - presenting a potential conflict of interest.
Were Prince's estate being probated in Contra Costa County, I believe the Court would be most likely to appoint a neutral third party, such as a group of professional fiduciaries, or a trusted bank who had the resources to manage his vast estate. In the midst of litigation, the Court often will turn to a neutral third party, rather than choosing an Administrator whose appointment is contested by one party.
Does this sound complicated? In Prince’s case, the complications are almost unceasing as many individuals have come forth as potential heirs, there is disagreement about the Estate's administrator, and litigation pending with the current Administrator. Nevertheless, even in the simplest of estates, the process of probate takes time and costs money. For residents of California (and most other states), a Trust is usually the simplest and least costly way to distribute one's assets.