Legal battles over large estates can be complex

For Prince fans, it can be hard to believe that the death of the beloved singer-songwriter and musician occurred over a year ago. The one-year anniversary of his death marked a new chapter in the fight over his estate.

Prince, who died without any estate planning documents, left behind a legal battle with hundreds of millions at stake. In the latest development, Rogue Music Alliance, an independent label, released a six-song extended player (EP) in late April that included songs recorded by the artist between 2006 and 2008, with the help of recording engineer Ian Boxill.

As one might imagine, this set off another flurry of legal action.

Restraining order halted sales

Paisley Park Enterprises and Comerica, the special administrator for Prince’s estate, almost immediately filed suit to halt sales. A temporary restraining order was issued, and the EP is no longer available for download. At issue is who will benefit from the sale of the records. While RMA issued a statement saying all proceeds would go toward Prince’s estate, Paisley Park and Comerica disagreed.

The release was issued rather unexpectedly, although apparently talks between all parties occurred prior to the EP’s release, with no resolution. Boxill cleaned up the unfinished tracks, added instrumentation, and approached RMA about releasing them as an EP. Boxill claims to co-own the tracks. Paisley Park Enterprises and Comerica Bank argued that the songs were solely the property of Prince’s estate and that Boxill had agreed to not use any recordings involving Prince.

It is not clear if the EP will be released any time soon, if ever.

Reality show in the works

On May 1, it was announced that Prince’s family is set to begin a reality television show, and has hinted that new music from the artist will be a part of it. If true, it may further complicate the distribution of the estate.

Meanwhile, Prince fans can hope to hear previously unreleased tracks someday, of which Prince is rumored to have many. It also serves as a reminder that legal battles involved in the distribution of a large estate can be messy and legally complex.