On Thursday, August 16, 2018 the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin died in her Detroit home. She was seventy-six years old. Aretha battled pancreatic cancer nearly eight years before succumbing. She owned an estate worth an estimated eighty million dollars. And yet, Aretha didn’t have a will or trust.
What is more surprising is that Aretha is just one of many famous musicians to die without planning. Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, Sonny Bono, Barry White, Amy Winehouse, Nate Dogg, Prince and Michael Jackson all died without planning. As a result, all their estates faced complications they otherwise would not have.
For example, if Aretha passed in California, Aretha’s estate would take a hit of at least eight hundred thousand dollars; four hundred thousand dollars in attorney fees – and another four hundred thousand dollars to an executor approved by the court. (And that doesn’t include the taxes her heirs will no doubt pay on her multiple properties).
However, Aretha could have protected her estate with an estate plan. The plan would have cost her a lot less! More importantly perhaps, it would have allowed Aretha (not the state) to determine how and to whom her estate is distributed. It would also protect her children from possible family squabbles – freeing them to properly grieve.
Of course, the average person doesn’t have an estate as large as Aretha’s. Yet, with proper planning the average person can protect whatever estate they have for a fraction of the costs their estate will pay in taxes and legal fees if they opt out of planning. The real benefit of planning for any person is making the process easy and efficient for his or her loved ones.
For more information about wills, trust or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.