The death of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, left a void in the music industry, with Pittsburgh residents, along with the rest of the country, playing her songs and watching her funeral with tears in their eyes. While her life and business dealings served as an example during her lifetime, her dying without a will and leaving behind a complicated situation can also serve as a lesson.
Franklin left behind four sons, between the ages of 48 to 63. Her oldest son is incapacitated and has a guardian. Under the law of the state in which she died, when there isn’t a Will or a spouse, the decedent’s children inherit everything equally.
The four do not appear to have any disputes about the inheritance as of yet. However, a long-time on and off romantic partner has recently emerged, claiming he also has a right to some of Franklin’s estate. This claim may cause problems, delays and expenses in distributing her estate.
One question that is coming up again and again is why Franklin didn’t engage in estate planning and create a Will – she was battling pancreatic cancer and was terminally ill. Her death was not sudden, and she had been encouraged time and time again to create a Will. However, experts claim this is quite common – people do not like to confront their own mortality so they put off drafting a Will.
They also do not want to make important but difficult decisions about splitting up their assets between their children or creating a trust to protect a special needs child. In this instance, it is unknown what the singer was worth and simply assessing her assets could take years.
The death of a loved one is traumatizing enough. When the decedent has died without a Will or other form of estate plan, it can become even more complicated as families may argue over what they deserve. Engaging in timely and accurate estate planning can make the estate process easier, quicker and less costly.