36th Annual NAACP Image Awards - Show
Prince performs on stage at the 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.Kevin Winter / getty

Prince's relatives are heading to court for the first showdown over who has a right to the lucrative estate of the wealthy singer who has left no will. Prince's estate is worth as much as $500m (£342m) in estimated assets.

That may or may not include a treasure trove of unpublished music discovered in an underground vault that was opened after his death. While Prince released 39 albums during his lifetime, he created enough extra music for a new Prince album to be released every year for the next century.

Because he had no wife nor publicly acknowledged children, his sister, Tyka Nelson, and his five half- brothers and sisters are his closest relatives. Prince's home state of Minnesota recognises half-siblings as having an equal right to an inheritance as a full sibling.

The relatives have already reportedly experienced some heated meetings. The first court hearing on 2 May will likely be short, but divvying up the estate could take years, reports local Minneapolis TV Fox 9.

What will get particularly interesting are the love children who have already started stepping forward to claim their piece of the pie. "To prove whether you're a love child could be an uphill battle," Shar Mansukhani, co-owner of Heirs Hunters International, a company that searches for possible heirs to estates, told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Mansukhani said the Los Angeles office has been swamped with calls, but so far only one man might possibly have a claim worth researching. There's also a teenage grand niece — the granddaughter of one of Prince's half-brothers who died years ago — who has a legitimate claim, said Mansukhani

While it's being sorted out, Bremer Trust Bank in Minneapolis will likely continue to manage Prince's estate. Nelson has already petitioned the court to be named the estate's special administrator.

It's not only Prince's hard assets that are at stake but the rights to his image, which could be worth more than all he owned. One entity that will clearly benefit is the government. Because Prince wasn't married and didn't leave a will, nor, apparently, plan tax-dodging schemes in the event of his death, the government — state and federal — will likely get half of the estate.

Relatives scrambling to cover travel and maintenance costs while the Purple Rain singer's assets are frozen received an unexpected helping hand from Prince's friend George Lopez, who provided some $29,000 (£22,000) in funds to cover immediate costs.