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Controversy may be the result of Prince's death

The recent, premature death of Minnesota's Prince Roger Nelson has brought to light some of the notoriously secretive musician's property and financial dealings in the area and may provide a lesson on well his businesses were organized to cope with his departure.

At the time of his death, Prince has been estimated to be worth somewhere around $300 million dollars. Much of this wealth is due to his somewhat unique status within the music industry. He apparently maintained much of the control over his song catalog and the rights to the income stream it generates. His need for control led to his disputes with his record company and eventually to his leaving the label.

He also has significant property holdings in Minnesota, primarily around Chanhassen. That is where Paisley Park, his recording studio, and sometime residence was located. It was built in the 1980s at a cost of approximately $10 million.

Additional property includes a lot on a local lake, where he built a home in the 1990s and then tore it down after his first divorce. He apparently owned 14 parcels in Carver County, and occasionally had issues involving delinquent property tax.

Musicians and Entertainers often suffer struggles with tax payments, in part due to the way in which they earn income, which may provide them with large payments sporadically throughout their careers.

The fate of Paisley Park and the rest of his property holdings will now have to be sorted out in what is likely to be a complex and messy probate administration. His sister has filed papers claiming there was no will.

There are potentially trusts, which may control much of his assets and for the unreleased music assets, there may be further questions of ownership with his former record company and other collaborators. There will also be issues involving potential estate taxes from the Minnesota Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service.

For business owners, the fallout from Prince's estate administration may provide a reminder that every business needs a fully developed succession plan.

Source:, "Prince Left His Purple Stamp Everywhere He Lived—Especially in Chanhassen," Cicely Wedgeworth, April 22, 2016

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