The world mourned the loss of Aretha Franklin after her long battle with pancreatic cancer. Despite the fact that she was 76 years old and she knew she had cancer, Franklin left no will for her four children.
According to media source, not only does this leave the estate worth an estimated $80 million in disarray as the children and lawyers take inventory, it also likely exposes the heirs to unnecessary estate taxes – 40 percent of the estate above the $11.18 million threshold will go to taxes, which is due nine months after her death. The estate will need to pay that bill.
Franklin did not listen to advice
The singer’s longtime attorney says that he asked her many times over the years to set up a trust, but she never did. She is not alone among legendary performers to die intestate – both Prince and James Brown also did not, with Brown’s estate still not resolved 11 years after his death.
What happens next for Franklin’s estate
Now probate court in Franklin’s home state of Michigan will have to handle the task. The children will go through the probate process and the assets will be divided between them. It means that the singer did not only choose who gets what, but it could create additional stress upon the children who must make decisions guessing what their mother would have wanted.
Why people do not do a will
It is impossible to know the thinking of the singer and her choice not to create an estate plan, will or trust. Knowledgeable estate planning attorneys can help draft these important documents in a way that is legally binding, effective and provides the minimum of stress to grieving heirs.
There could have been some charitable planning, particularly addressing the still struggling residents of Detroit, music organizations or other deserving entities. Not creating an estate plan is a personal decision, but all will agree that there was a lost opportunity and additional unnecessary expense.