Court battle over Prince's estate continues

More than three months after Prince’s death, the pilgrimage of fans to his Paisley Park studio and home in Chanhassen, Minn. is far from dying down.  Among the hundred or so walking past the decorated fence early on this Thursday afternoon was a pair of women who didn’t even know each other before they drove 25 hours to get here.

“She’s from Vancouver, Washington and I’m from just north of Seattle,” Lori Leighton said, sitting in her car next to Christina Harris, who she met on a Prince Facebook fan page. 

When Harris said she was driving out for a Prince tour and looking for company, Leighton jumped at the chance, Christina missing her wedding anniversary and Lori, her husband’s 50th birthday.
“I’ve been a Prince fan since I was 12 years old.  He’s been a part of my life forever,” Harris said, showing off her Prince symbol tattoo on her forearm.

But as fans continue to mourn, family members continue to wrestle over Prince’s estate. Another probate court hearing was held on Thursday, this one focused on what should and should not be public, as dozens of claims have come in from people who either are, or believe they are, relatives.

Among the dozens who’ve filed affidavits of heirship, a woman from Kansas City who believes she is a half-sister.  But so far, the judge is not allowing DNA testing for anyone other than a potential offspring.  Many attorneys are fighting that, including James Selmer, the attorney who represents her. 

“Anybody who has claimed they are an heir and show there is a direct nexus between Prince and them,” Selmer told Fox 9 after the hearing, “they should be allowed to go through the process of clear and convincing evidence that they are a potential heir.”

The woman he’s representing has an interesting claim:  that her father is Prince’s actual father, rather than John Lewis Nelson.   Her father and Prince’s mother were previously married, and it is her belief that they carried on their relationship during their later marriages.  And she, like others, would like DNA testing to know for sure.

That carries with it the possibility of a huge impact on Prince’s half-siblings from his father’s first marriage.  If testing would prove that John Lewis Nelson is not in fact Prince’s genetic father, then those half-siblings would not be related at all.

Earlier this week, Prince’s only full sibling, Tyka Nelson, and his half-siblings filed a motion that the judge declare them the sole heirs, ending the matter once and for all.  The judge has yet to rule on that motion.

And all this plays into the arguments in court over what should be considered private.  There are issues that could potentially embarrass people who do not want their families reputations tarnished.   But, Selmer thinks it should be as transparent as possible, dirty laundry and all.

“Our whole point is let’s just get to the truth,” Selmer told Fox 9. “Because the truth is the most important thing here to find out who are Prince’s true full heirs. The reality is that people that are entitled to be heirs should be the heirs.”