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In re Estate of Nelson

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

September 5, 2017

In the Matter of the Estate of: Prince Rogers Nelson, Decedent A16-1545, In the Matter of the Estate of: Prince Rogers Nelson, Decedent A16-1546.

         Carver County District Court File No. 10-PR-16-46

          James C. Selmer, Marc M. Berg, W. Gustin Vandiford, J. Selmer Law, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Charles R. Brown (pro hac vice), Fields & Brown, LLC, Kansas City, Missouri (for appellant Venita Jackson Leverette)

          Cameron M. Parkhurst, Sharon H. Fischlowitz, Sussman Parkhurst, PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellants Darcell Gresham Johnston, Loya Janel Wilson, Loyal James Gresham III, and Orrine Gresham)

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (respondent State of Minnesota)

          Mark W. Greiner, Joseph J. Cassioppi, Sarah M. Olson, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent Comerica Bank and Trust N.A.)

          Steven H. Silton, Thomas P. Kane, Armeen F. Mistry, Cozen O'Connor, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Dexter R. Hamilton (pro hac vice), Cozen O'Connor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (for respondents Tyka Nelson and Omarr Baker)

          Justin A. Bruntjen, JAB Legal LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Nicholas Granath, Seham, Seham, Meltz & Petersen, LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent Alfred Frank Alonzo Jackson)

          Randall W. Sayers, Nathaniel A. Dahl, Adam J. Rohne, Hanssen, Dordell, Bradt, Odlaug & Bradt, PLLP, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondents Norrine Nelson, Sharon Nelson, and John Nelson)

          Considered and decided by Reilly, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Judge; and Kalitowski, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         When a decedent has a presumed father under the parentage act's paternity presumption in the Minnesota Parentage Act, Minn. Stat. § 257.55, subd. 1 (2016), a claim by a party seeking to establish a genetic relationship to the decedent through the decedent's father for the purpose of intestate succession under the Uniform Probate Code is governed by the parentage act, Minn. Stat. §§ 257.51-74 (2016).

          OPINION

          KALITOWSKI, Judge [*]

         Appellants challenge the district court's order in this probate dispute, arguing that the district court erred in applying the parentage act's paternity presumption to exclude them as heirs as a matter of law.

         FACTS

         Decedent Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958. Decedent's Certificate of Birth lists his parents as Mattie Della Shaw and John L. Nelson. Mattie Della Shaw and John L. Nelson married in 1957 and divorced in 1968. The district court identified decedent and Tyka Nelson as children of Mattie Della Shaw and John L. Nelson in their marriage-dissolution proceeding. John L. Nelson died on August 25, 2001. Probate records identify decedent, Lorna Nelson, Sharon Blakely, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson, and Tyka Nelson as the children of John L. Nelson.

         Decedent died on April 21, 2016, in Chanhassen, Minnesota. On April 26, Tyka Nelson filed a "Petition for Formal Appointment of Special Administrator" regarding decedent's estate. The petition alleged that Tyka Nelson is a sibling of decedent and that John R. Nelson, Norrine Nelson, Sharon Nelson, Alfred Jackson, Omarr Baker, and Lorna Nelson are half-siblings of decedent.[1] The district court granted Tyka Nelson's petition and appointed Bremer Trust the special administrator of decedent's estate.[2]

         On May 6, the district court authorized the genetic testing of decedent's blood. On May 18, the district court established a procedure for the genetic testing of persons claiming to be heirs of decedent. Under the procedure, any party claiming a genetic relationship to decedent that may give rise to heirship was required to file an affidavit with the district court "setting forth the facts that establish the reasonable possibility of the existence of such a relationship." The district court directed the special administrator to develop a protocol for genetic testing, "after considering the positions of the parties claiming a genetic relationship." In considering the positions of the parties claiming a genetic relationship, the district court instructed the special ...


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