It is common for many celebrities to pass away without an estate plan. Unfortunately, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is the most recent celebrity to join this group. Ms. Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018 at the age of 76; she was a phenomenal singer who commanded the world’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Ms. Franklin had an attorney, but it is said that she passed away without a will or a trust. With an estate of such magnitude that we can only assume Ms. Franklin had, this is unfortunate for several reasons.
Inheritance Intentions Unknown
Without the existence of a Will it is unknown exactly who Ms. Franklin wanted to inherit her estate and how much she wanted them to receive. Ms. Franklin is survived by her four sons, who pursuant to Michigan law are her legal beneficiaries. However, if Ms. Franklin had wanted to make specific gifts to charities or friends she is now unable to do so.
Contents of Estate Public
It is said that Aretha Franklin was a relatively private person when it came to her finances. She could have kept this privacy after her death with the creation of a trust. With a trust her estate may not have needed to go through probate and could have been administered privately by her Trustee. However, now her estate will need to go through probate in the court and the contents and value of her assets will be public record.
Potential for Conflicts or Contest
The sad fact of the matter is more often than not, inheritance causes strife within a family if the decedent’s intentions were unknown. This could potentially be the case for Aretha Franklin’s estate. The New York Times reported “High profile probate proceedings can drag on for years and lead to infighting among families, lawyers and others. Such estates can become especially complicated when it comes to issues like music rights. The case of Prince, who died two years ago and left no will, has led to numerous family disputes and even the revocation of a multi million dollar music deal.”
With the creation of a Will or Trust Aretha Franklin could have made her wishes known, kept them private and removed any potential for a conflict between beneficiaries.
Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning to individuals and families in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area. For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.