NEW YORK - A Minnesota judge ruled that Prince's six siblings are the heirs to his estate, a key step in the long battle over the pop legend's fortune.
Kevin Eide, the judge in Carver County where Prince died suddenly last year at his Paisley Park estate, said that the "Purple Rain" star's heirs 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 $300-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.
The ruling comes nine days after a hearing in which the siblings pressed for a resolution and following months of sometimes colourful claims by people who say they are Prince's descendants.
Among the claims received by the court were one from a woman who said she had a secret wedding to Prince in Las Vegas and a little-known musician who alleged that Prince agreed on a tour bus to hand him his whole estate.
The judge's ruling will also provide more clarity on control of Prince's legendary vault of unreleased songs, with the estate already sealing deals for future releases.
The pop legend died at Paisley Park in April last year 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.