NEW YORK • A judge has ruled that Prince's six siblings are the heirs to the late pop singer's estate, a key step in the more than year-old battle over his fortune and vast trove of unreleased songs.
Mr Kevin Eide, the judge in Carver County, Minnesota, where Prince died suddenly in April last year at his Paisley Park estate, said that heirs of the Purple Rain star were his sister Tyka Nelson and five half-siblings.
"The heirs of the estate are determined to be Omarr Baker, Alfred Jackson, Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson and Tyka Nelson," the order read.
In practical terms, the ruling will not immediately hand over Prince's fortune - which is estimated to be worth up to US$300 million (S$414 million) - to his siblings.
Instead, it starts a one-year process in which people who claim to be related to Prince can still make their appeals, but be definitively excluded if the judge does not accept their case.
"I'm finally my brother's legal sister again," Ms Tyka Nelson, who is also a singer but with much less success than Prince, wrote on Facebook. "It's a happy day!"
The ruling comes nine days after a hearing in which the siblings pressed for a resolution, following months of sometimes colourful claims by people who said they are Prince's descendants.
Among the claims received by the court were one from a woman who said she had a secret wedding with Prince in Las Vegas, and a little-known musician who alleged that Prince agreed on a tour bus to hand him his whole estate.
Prince died from an accidental overdose of powerful painkillers.
The 57-year-old - outwardly a model of health who did not drink, advocated a vegetarian diet and fired musicians who abused drugs - left no will and had no living children who were recognised.