Prince’s half-sister, Sharon Nelson, has accused Comerica Bank & Trust, the administration that is handling Prince’s estate, of mishandling the late artist’s finances, Billboard reports. Her family’s fight against Comerica has now resulted in thousands of court filings and millions of dollars in legal fees. She predicts that if the company is not stopped, Prince’s estate will soon go bankrupt.
“Prince’s estate will be bankrupt by the end of the year,” Nelson predicted. “Prince is not resting in peace while this is going on. He’s very upset what these people have done to his estate. It’s really sad.”
After Prince’s death in 2016, Nelson and her siblings – the singer’s full sister Tyka Nelson, his half brothers Omarr Baker, Alfred Jackson, John R. Nelson and his half-sisters Sharon and Norrine Nelson – became sole heirs of the estate that is said to be valued between $100 million and $300 million. The family was forced to hire their own attorneys to defend their interests after 45 people claimed to be heirs of the “Purple Rain” singer’s estate.
Due to nearly $3 million in legal fees, Nelson said her siblings are not able to afford a new attorney. Although she is able to get by because she is a “senior citizen and I have worked all my life,” she said her other family members are barely scraping by.
The family was each awarded $100,000 following Prince’s 2016 tribute concert, but Nelson said they have not received any more money from Comerica although the bank continued to receive $125,000 a month for administering the estate.
Additionally, Nelson told Billboard that Comerica continued to make poor financial moves such as paying $90,000 a month to store Prince’s unreleased music in a vault in Los Angeles.
There are reportedly more than 2,700 court filings regarding this matter. The court documents include motion, affidavits, memos, and depositions that support Nelson and her family’s complaint about Comerica’s representation.
In Oct. 2017, Nelson and two of the others heirs filed to permanently remove Comerica from the estate after an allegedly heated meeting. They accused the bank of being verbally abusive and threatening Nelson. In Dec. 2017, a judge denied their petition to remove Comerica, ruling that it would not be in the best interest of the estate.
Comerica has denied the allegations against them. Bank officials explained in the court filings that the heirs could not receive a dime until a tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was settled. Nelson said she found that reasoning odd since Prince died with $97 million in cash and $30 million to $40 million in real estate holdings.
Comerica released a statement to Billboard regarding Nelson’s claims. “The estate of Prince Rogers Nelson is a court-supervised estate, which places strict reporting and judicial oversight requirements on Comerica as the Personal Representative,” the statement read. “Comerica has complied with all legal and ethical requirements during its administration of the estate. Comerica’s fees and those of the estate’s attorneys are filed with and approved by the Court every four months with complete transparency to the heirs. The attorneys’ fees paid by the estate have been court-approved as reasonable and necessary for the benefit of the estate.”
Prince’s siblings are currently asking a judge to permanently limit the Comerica’s powers as the estate’s personal representative. A hearing is scheduled for May 20.