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So, Who Gets the Little Red Corvette?

by: Laura Dyer Johnson Although I was not born yet, when Prince’s first album was released in 1978, I have always been a Prince fan.  Even though I was not jamming to “1999” when it was first released in 1982, I definitely spent the actual year of 1999 with it playing frequently, as we all waited to see what Y2K would really bring, besides the standard ball drop.  And who does not enjoy songs like “Raspberry Beret,” “Kiss” (I’m looking at you, Julia Roberts), “When Doves Cry” or too many others to list? Maybe it is precisely because I have never known a world that did not include Prince’s music that I was so saddened to learn of his sudden death a few weeks ago. Prince has always maintained an aura of mystery and has been very protective of his rights as an artist, like during a public standoff with Warner Brothers when he performed with the word “slave” painted on his face and more recently when he refused to allow free streaming sites to play his music.  These stances to protect his music are why it was even more surprising to learn that Prince died without any kind of estate plan.  There is no will or trust to direct how his extensive music catalogue will be managed.  Although we do not yet know the size of his estate, there is no direction of how his assets (including future royalties) will be distributed among his heirs.  It is hard to imagine that an artist with such defined opinions did not leave behind instructions to guide his loved ones (and by extension, those who love and want access to his music).  Minnesota law will now provide the framework for many of these unanswered questions, but will that person who ultimately controls Prince’s estate follow his lead on issues like streaming sites? How will his unreleased music be released? The hands that will ultimately control his music and how it is made available to the public, remain a mystery at present, much like the artist himself. Even if you do not count a music catalogue like Prince’s among your personal possessions, his final mystery is a reminder that we all need an estate plan to ease what is an inherently difficult time for those we leave behind. More information about Prince’s death and estate are available in this article: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/04/26/475733949/beyond-streaming-how-will-future-fans-discover-princes-music