Five would-be heirs of Prince lose Minnesota court appeal
A Minnesota state appeals court on Tuesday said five people who claimed to be half-siblings of Prince did not deserve to share in the late pop superstar’s estate.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals said the judge overseeing Prince’s estate correctly interpreted state parentage and probate laws in rejecting the would-be heirs’ bid to share in a fortune estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Judge Kevin Eide, of the Carver County District Court, decided in May that Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson and five half-siblings qualified as heirs.
Eide previously declared that John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw were Prince’s parents because they were married when the singer, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, was born in 1958.
Prince left no will when he died in April 2016 at age 57 of an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl, at his Paisley Park Studios compound near Minneapolis.
The singer’s many hits included “Little Red Corvette,” “1999,” “When Doves Cry” and “Purple Rain.”
Darcell Johnston, Loya Wilson, Loyal Gresham III, Orrine Gresham and Venita Jackson Leverette, the would-be heirs, claimed that John Nelson was not Prince’s father, and that they were half-siblings through either of two other men.
But the appeals court said that because John Nelson was Prince’s “presumptive father” under state parentage laws, he was also Prince’s “genetic father” under state probate laws.
It said this meant Prince’s estate must pass to descendants of John Nelson and Mattie Shaw, which included none of the would-be heirs, who were not allowed to undergo genetic testing.
Cameron Parkhurst, a lawyer for Johnston, Wilson and the Greshams, said his clients were disappointed with the decision and weighing their next steps. Charles Brown, a lawyer for Leverette, said he would review the decision with his client.
Two additional claimants, a daughter and granddaughter of Prince’s former security chief Duane Nelson, who claimed to be John Nelson’s son, are appealing Eide’s denial last October of their claims to shares in Prince’s estate.
Eide had in July 2016 ruled out claims by 29 other would-be heirs.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)