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What? The “Queen” Died Without a Will?

Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul”, died last August without a will or other estate plan.  Her four children by various marriages stand to inherit her estimated $80 million estate under Michigan’s law of “intestate succession.”  The Oakland County Probate Court will oversee the administration of the estate.

Probate courts are open to the public.  Thus, her estate’s worth and any arguments among her children, will be viewable.  Details of her numerous debts will be a matter of public record.  Franklin was infamous for stiffing many of her creditors over her long career.  It will be interesting to see how many of them come out of the woodwork to file claims against her estate.

Why she did not follow her lawyer’s advice and create a living trust to keep her affairs private is a mystery.  Many people don’t want to think about death, so they procrastinate preparing for that event.  Only 40% of adults have even a simple will, according to recent statistics.

Women, especially, should think of the necessity of an estate plan.  The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement estimates that 80% of men die married, but that 80% of women die single.  That means women will be managing money and the distribution of their estates by themselves.

Statistically, the chance of dying is 100%.  The only issue is when.  Wouldn’t it make sense to prepare for something that WILL happen?

This is the holiday season—if you have not already done so—have a will or other estate plan in place before the new year.  Peace of mind for you and your family is a priceless gift.