Prince's estate is a mess.
It was from the beginning, and it still is. Just yesterday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the estate, and against a sound engineer who'd planned to release five previously unheard Prince tunes.
What to do with Prince's volumes of music still leaves out the debate of who's going to get his money. That still-growing fortune is, as of March, estimated at around $200 million.
This sad state of Prince's affairs was the theme of an email sent earlier this week to members of the Minnesota Public Radio "Legacy Society," an elite group of some "600 individuals committed to supporting the future of public media."
Meaning: They're super-rich, they give a lot, or both. Your $5 a month gets you a mug; their "generous" donations get them invited to MPR soirees and show tapings, "VIP tours" of its radio station headquarters in St. Paul, and "special experiences tailored to [their] interests."
Clearly, these are people MPR wants to take care of. Ostensibly, that's what this email was all about. In reality, it sure looks like it's asking them to think about Prince while writing MPR into their wills.
The email begins:
"This week marks the one-year anniversary of the death of the artist Prince,” the email begins, “as you’re likely being reminded elsewhere. Prince was a giant in music and creativity. He left the world too early, but in doing so offered us some final important lessons. Some of those lessons pertain to estate and charitable planning."
Maybe if you're in the nonprofit fundraising world, where, as this letter explains, one becomes familiar with "a condition known as 'intestacy,'" a painful-sounding affliction that means one died without a will.
For that reason, Prince's hundreds of millions will probably be split among his "surviving sister and five half-siblings," who will "receive an equal share of his estate, regardless of what his wishes might have been."
Sad. Sorry, why are we talking about Prince's family? Oh, here's why: "Each one of us who is a competent adult may and should exercise our right to decide which loved ones and favorite charitable organizations will benefit when we pass away."
And that, for you freshman majoring in business or nonprofit management, is what we call "the ask." Well, the beginning of it. The email continues to say that by not leaving a will, the artist left himself vulnerable to heavy estate taxes -- as much as "half Prince's wealth," the letter says -- could wind up paid in estate taxes.
"With proper planning," the letter continues, "Prince still could have transferred millions of dollars to loved ones and left the rest to charity, significantly reducing the estate tax bill and possibly paying zero estate tax."
This, of course, presumes that what Prince wanted was to leave his money to charity. Sad that he died too soon to fill out the paperwork.
Maybe this wouldn't be so bad if some fundraiser, in passing, mentioned, "Hey, look what happened with Prince," to convince some nearly-won-over rich person to put Minnesota Public Radio in his will. As literature dedicated to the lessons wealthy public radio supporters should learn from Prince, it feels cheesy as fuck, like dad turning off the record player so you kids can hear his a capella group's cassette.
"When your plan is in place," the letter closes, "you’ll have peace of mind and joy in knowing you’ve helped others. That’s the time to say (or sing) ‘Baby, I’m a Star!’”
The letter (reprinted below) was published to the photo-sharing site Imgur on Wednesday, and this afternoon, MPR issued a brief apology.
Listeners, supporters: We’re sorry. A recent Legacy Society email was not meant to distract from Prince's memory,music or our community.— MPR (@MPR) April 20, 2017
Wanna learn lessons from Prince and support Minnesota Public Radio?
Listen to 89.3 The Current starting at midnight tonight, and all day tomorrow. They're playing his music all day. If you come away from that experience feeling like you need a shower, at least it'll be for the right reasons. The ones Prince would've wanted.