Estate PlanningProbate and Trust

Aretha Franklin – the Queen of Soul – dies without an estate plan

Aretha Franklin

As a music lover and an estate planning attorney, I was sad to read that Arthea Franklin – the Queen of Soul –died without having completed any estate planning. Unfortunately, it’s all too common that people procrastinate and put off their estate planning. But it’s a costly mistake. Had Aretha worked with an estate planner, her assets could have passed to her beneficiaries through a trust. A trust would have kept the details of her assets private. Apparently, Aretha’s music and intellectual property attorney was after her for years to form a trust, but she just never got around to it. A trust could have expedited the transfer of her significant assets to her beneficiaries, avoided probate, and kept her financial affairs private.

By not making a will, either, Aretha’s estate will pass as an intestate probate proceeding to her four children. Now her assets will be distributed by t the Michigan probate court as part of a public process. All of this could had been avoided with some planning.

There may be significant estate tax consequences to Aretha’s failure to plan. The IRS will levy a 40 % tax on the portions of her estate valued over $11.18 million. Aretha has an 80 million dollar estate. That’s a tax bill of $27.5 million. The valuation issues relating to her work and music royalties will be complicated.

Even if you don’t have a complicated, 80 million dollar estate like the Queen of Soul, basic estate planning can help you be sure that your assets pass to your loved ones and family members the way you want. It helps to avoid fighting among family members and litigation – which is often where large estates like this one may end up.

To learn more about protecting your family with a proper estate plan please contact us to schedule a consultation.

NY Times Article – Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will, and Estate Issues Loom