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How the courts assess claims to an inheritance

A few months ago, we wrote a blog post discussing some of the serious problems that were likely to arise in the wake of legendary musician Prince's unexpected death. One of the main complications that presented itself early on was the fact that Prince did not have a will and several people were expected to come forward seeking a portion of his estate.

In that post, which can be read in full here, we noted that at least two people had already come forward claiming to be an heir.  Since then, however, a total of 29 claims have been made, all of which were recently denied. In this post, we will look at some of the ways courts assess these claims and how they determine which are baseless and which may be legitimate.

If someone says she is a relative of the deceased, the courts may order genetic testing or request birth certificates. If someone claims she was married to the deceased, a marriage certificate must be presented.

If a person comes forward claiming the deceased made promises to give him money or property, the courts can ask to see any evidence of such an arrangement. This might include written correspondence or business agreements that may have alluded to such promises.

Any information that can be gathered in support of or to contradict a person's claim will be closely scrutinized and carefully considered. If the courts are not convinced of a legal tie between the deceased and would-be heirs, they will exclude those requests from the inheritance claim, as was the case for the 29 people seeking a portion of Prince's estate.

Considering how complicated these claims can be and how much could be on the line, it is crucial that anyone making them or disputing them has legal representation and a clear understanding of how such matters are addressed in Florida.

Source: Business Insider, "29 people claimed to be heirs to Prince's estate and a court denied all of them," Curtis Skinner and Steve Gorman, July 30, 2016

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