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  • Writer's picturemelissadoughertyan

RESPECT Aretha Franklin Left An $80 Million Estate. And No Will. Here’s Why That Matters To You

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

If I could go back in time, I would call up Aretha Franklin prior to her death and offer her FREE legal services to help plan her Estate. She gave all of us a lifetime of soulful music. However, with all that fortune and fame, she never sought legal advice to establish a Last Will and Testament.

So what happens in that case?

Well, her Estate would go into Probate Court and be disbursed by the laws of intestacy. Meaning in simpler terms, Intestate Succession is defined as: when a person dies without having a valid will in place, his or her property passes by what is called "intestate succession" to heirs according to state law. In other words, if you don't have a will, the state will make one for you. All fifty states have laws (or "statutes") of this kind on the books.

Intestate succession would allow her personal and private property to pass to her rightful heirs (children) and if a child predeceased her then it would go to the heir of that child (grandchildren in equal apportionment). The main issue is Aretha had a child who could qualify as disabled. Had she sought legal counsel she could have created a Disability Trust for that child, and perhaps still qualified him for Medicaid or Medicare and allowing for his monthly care and management by a Trustee in charge of providing him funds.

Unfortunately, in this particular case her family is probably spending quite a lot of the Estate on Legal fees in Probate Court to determine apportionment and perhaps even partition of real estate. Which often means heightened emotions, fights between siblings, sleepless nights and anxiety. All of which could have been avoided by drafting a Trust Instrument and Will.

Plan ahead. Draft a Will. Don't let this misfortune happen to your family.

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Elder Law

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At 93, She Waged War on JPMorgan—and Her Own Grandsons

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