Since Prince’s unexpected death last Thursday at the age of 57, there has been speculation about who can lay claim to the late singer’s estate.
Prince’s fortune, which is estimated at around $300 million, consists of music rights and wealth accumulated from tours and album sales, in addition to several international properties he bought and sold over the years (including his Bridle Path home in Toronto).
LISTEN: A Corus radio tribute to Prince’s music
Throughout his career, Prince sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Since his death, he’s sold an additional one million songs and 231,000 albums, which is remarkable considering it’s only been four days since his passing.
So who has rights to all of his wealth?
Divorced twice and with no surviving children — Prince reportedly had a son with ex-wife Mayte Garcia, but he died a week after birth due to a rare genetic disorder — it’s not known if Prince even has a will.
“Hopefully, Prince executed a trust and indicated his intentions, both with respect to who his trustee would be and how he would want the estate to be disposed of,” celebrity lawyer Dan Streisand told Reuters. “Prince was an incredibly smart person, he had great legal representation… so I would suspect that somebody along the way said, ‘Look, we’ve got to get you to execute some documents.’”
READ MORE: Prince had special connection to Toronto, site of one of his final shows
The most likely candidate to receive ownership of his estate at this point is Prince’s younger sister, Tyka Nelson. Nelson, 55, is his closest living relative; their parents died decades ago. Some reports say that Prince has at least six siblings, but it’s unclear how close the musician was to them before his death.
Nelson would only become trustee for the estate if Prince didn’t have a will in place, and the decision would ultimately rest with a probate court in Minnesota, his home state. Under Minnesota law, the estate first falls to grandchildren, then parents, then siblings, and then lastly, other more distant relatives.
Prince’s case is rare, because he actually has total ownership of his master recordings and his own music publishing. Additionally, there is reportedly a massive collection of unheard recordings sitting in a vault. The future of those songs — whether they’ll be released or kept sealed, who will distribute them and when — is still up in the air.
WATCH: Prince performs at concert in Toronto in 1993
In combination with his $300 million fortune, his unpublished catalog of music could fetch an added $200 million, bringing his total net worth to $500 million.
Prince was steadfast in his defence of his artistic rights. He famously changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol after a contract battle with Warner Bros. Music in the ’90s, and even wrote the word “slave” on his forehead for concert performances. It’s safe to say that the musician would be very guarded with his material, especially the unreleased songs, which makes the dissemination of his estate all the more difficult.
READ MORE: RIP Prince: Celebrities, fans mourn singer’s death on social media
A known philanthropist, Prince gave large sums of money to numerous charities, including Harlem Children’s Zone, an organization helping poverty-stricken families in Harlem, N.Y., the Uptown Dance Academy, and an initiative called YesWeCode, which seeks to train struggling young adults for careers in technology.
Prince Timeline | PrettyFamous