Georgia fans of renowned singer Aretha Franklin may be giving new thought to estate planning after the news that the 76-year-old star passed away without a will. She died in August after a long fight against pancreatic cancer, but it was discovered that she had never made a will. Her niece has filed with the probate court to be recognized as executor of the estate, and her four sons have also registered as interested parties before the court. However, because she did not have a will or other estate documents in place, her estate could take longer to process and come at a higher cost to her heirs.
Franklin's lawyer said that he had advised her to create trusts, a will and other major estate documents during her lifetime, but that she had never done so. Her estate is estimated to be valued at $80 million and will now be handled according to Michigan's intestacy statute. That means that her estate will be handled in the probate court, and all of the issues involved will be public record - including the value of Franklin's music catalog.
She is not the only celebrity to pass away without a will; other prominent stars who died intestate include Prince and James Brown.
There are a number of reasons why people hesitate to make an estate plan, including not wanting to think about their own death. However, by creating a will, trusts and other documents, people can improve their own peace of mind and prevent later costs to their heirs. An estate planning lawyer can work with people to make a plan for the future that reflects their wishes and protects their loved ones.