Aretha Franklin, the beloved “queen of soul” died on August 16 with an estimated $80 million estate without a Will or other estate planning documents. She was survived by four sons – one of whom has special needs. Although her music and legacy will live for generations to come, one might question how and why anyone with so much money could fail to do any planning. Her long-time attorney, Don Wilson, stated “I was after her for a number of years to do a trust. It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate and kept things private.” Franklin liked her privacy, but all court actions will be open to the public scrutiny.

As a result of Franklin’s failure to act, the judicial system will determine who are her heirs resulting in more legal fees and court costs. Furthermore, although estate taxes may not have been eliminated, she could have reduced her estate taxes in numerous ways. Texas even allows Wills to be modified after death for tax reasons (perhaps Michigan has something similar). Additionally, one of her children has a disability and his direct receipt of an inheritance could create other legal issues and expenses. Also, the failure to plan shall result in a delay in distribution of the assets of the estate.

No matter how big or small of an estate one has, most would probably prefer to determine who are their beneficiaries (instead of the state), what the beneficiaries receive, when and how they get their funds, without delay and with as little expenses (whether legal fees, court costs, etc.) as possible.

If interested in learning more on how to keep things private and provide for your beneficiaries, then you should attend one of our free “Estate Planning Essentials” workshops. Our next one is on Thursday, September 13, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. and the one after that will be Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. If interested in attending, call (214) 720-0102 or sign up online at www.dallaselderlawyer.com. Attendees are entitled to a free meeting ($1,000 value when considering both the workshop and meeting).

Click here to listen to Michael Cohen’s podcast on Aretha Franklin!

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