For Estate Planning, Aretha Gets No R-E-S-P-E-C-T

August 28, 2018

Recently, the legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin passed away. While her death shocked fans around the world, the news that followed was even more shocking: Despite a net worth or roughly $80 million, The Queen of Soul did not leave behind a will.
There is a lesson here that every citizen should take to heart. Regardless of Franklin’s status, popularity, historical significance, and wealth, her estate will now be treated like any other person’s who dies without a will. The State of Michigan will now distribute her estate according to their laws of intestate succession.

While each state has its own laws regarding the distribution of an estate, the general pecking order is often followed:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces & Nephews
  7. Cousins
In this instance, it looks like Franklin’s assets will be divided equally among her 4 sons, all of whom have filed a document with the court as interested parties in her estate. A niece has also asked to be appointed as personal representative of the estate, i.e. the person who administers the estate of a deceased person as executor or court appointed administer.

The problem here is that without a will, we have no true way of knowing how Franklin would want her estate to be distributed in the first place. Additionally, this has the potential to be a long and drawn out process due to the contents of her estate (bonds, stocks, awards, memorabilia, song rights, property, etc).

Right now, nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults don’t have will. If you want any say in how your assets are divided after your death, it is imperative that you draft a will as soon as possible. Contact the lawyers at Isom Stanko & Senter and let them help you plan today!