Being famous doesn’t mean you are perfect. Being able to throw touchdowns or cry on cue or belt out the latest hit song doesn’t necessarily mean you are an expert at everything. For example, we often read about celebrities that made major estate planning mistakes. Just recently, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, demonstrated again the importance of estate planning. Ms. Franklin earned respect through her artistic talent, but maybe didn’t think much about her family’s future.
What she didn’t do.
Based on documents filed with the local courts after her death, Ms. Franklin apparently did not leave a valid Will. Her estate, then, will be handled as an intestate estate. Assets in the estate likely will be distributed using Michigan intestacy succession laws.
As far as we know, she did not set up any trusts. Apparently, Ms. Franklin did not take any steps to limit her estate’s tax burden. With an estate that may be worth around $80 million, this could mean Uncle Sam will be getting a good chunk of money she intended her family to have.
What she may have done.
She reportedly met with her attorney and her family shortly before her death. It’s important to note that Michigan law does recognize oral trusts. She may have stated her preferences at that meeting in a way that set up an oral trust. However, Michigan does not recognize oral Wills.
However, trusts do not have to be filed with the court. At this point, we don’t know whether she prepared a trust or not.
What she could have done instead.
Vigorous and comprehensive estate planning is necessary, especially with a larger estate. Advanced estate planning strategies could have reduced her taxes, minimized the chance of a family feud, and spread her wealth over several generations.
Think, think about … getting your estate in order.
It’s unlikely your estate is worth as much as Ms. Franklin’s. However, you can have a step up on her by putting together an estate plan that meets the needs of you and your family. It’s kind of ironic actually – your estate plan is your voice.
Contact the attorneys at the Dillon Law Group, PLC with your questions and concerns. We give our clients the personalized attention they can’t get from a website. Call us at 757-962-4796 to schedule an appointment or use our Contact Form to let us know you’re interested. We assist clients in Virginia Beach, Newport News, and surrounding areas.