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The Debate Over Aretha Franklin’s Estate

Aretha Franklin is the latest celebrity to have her estate in the news because of a lack of estate planning documents and unclear instructions. Not long after the singer’s death, it was reported that she had left no will. Then last week, news surfaced that Franklin had indeed left a will (Did Aretha Franklin Leave Her Will Under the Couch Cushion?).

In an article about the newly found documents, The New York Times reported:

“Since Aretha Franklin died in August, her family has operated with a simple understanding about her estate: Because she was believed to have had no will, Franklin’s assets and income would be divided equally among her four sons, in accordance with Michigan law.” (Aretha Franklin’s Sons Debate Whether New Will Is Valid)

The fact that there was more than one will, that they are handwritten, and the dates they are believed to be written will all come into play. This, plus IRS claims on the estate, will complicate matters a great deal.

The truth is when someone has a will drawn up by a professional and it is not left under a couch cushion, there can be complications. Still, wouldn’t you prefer to clearly outline how you want your assets distributed instead of leaving your heirs to fight and possibly see much of the estate eaten up by legal fees?

While Franklin’s estate made headlines, many other people’s lack of estate planning will not make headlines but it may cause untold grief to the people they leave behind. You can work with a Fee-Only financial advisor to manage your money and seek legal counsel on execute documents such as wills, trusts, and power of attorney.