In life in general, when you hear about mistakes that have been made by others, you learn valuable lessons about “what not to do.” Within the realm of estate planning, there are a number of constructive tales that revolve around estate planning errors that were made by rich, famous people.
This type of situation has unfolded since the death of the legendary “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin. She passed away as a result of pancreatic cancer in August of 2018 at the age of 76. It has been estimated that her estate is valued at somewhere in the vicinity of $80 million.
Of course, when you are talking about an artist with a likeness and a library of work that will continue to generate revenue, the true total value of the estate cannot be accurately determined.
It is hard to imagine someone with this type of wealth going through life, and a serious illness, without taking action with regard to an estate planning strategy. She did have the same attorney for over four decades according to reports, so this makes the inaction all the more perplexing.
For whatever reason, she died intestate, with no estate planning documents at all–or so it seemed shortly after her passing. She has four surviving sons, and under the intestate succession laws of the state of Michigan where she resided, they would be in line to inherit her intestate property.
Several months later before the case was finalized by the Probate Court, Sabrina Owens, a niece of the singer, found three handwritten wills in Franklin’s home. Owens was cleaning the property, and she found the key to a locked cabinet that contained two of them that were written in 2010.
There was a third one in a spiral notebook that was found under a couch cushion. This was apparently executed in 2014, so it would be the most recent version. Going forward, the probate court will examine all the facts and make a determination when all the facts have been presented.
Don’t Let This Happen to You
From an early age, Aretha Franklin should have had an estate plan in place, and it would have been very easy for her to do so in light of her resources. Over the years, she could simply contact her attorney to update the plan whenever a revision became necessary.
Even though she failed to take any action early on, when she decided to write out these holographic wills, she obviously wanted to state her wishes in writing. At that point, she certainly should have been motivated to seek legal counsel.
In fact, she could have asked her longtime personal attorney to set up an appointment with a respected estate planning lawyer in her area.
This real-life story should serve as a wake-up call if you are currently going through life without an estate plan. All responsible adults should have a plan in place, and the responsibility is not confined to senior citizens. Young adults should be prepared as well, and this is particularly important for the parents of dependent children.
Custom Crafted Estate Plan
There is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all estate plan that is right for everyone. For example, the estate of someone with extraordinary wealth like Aretha Franklin would be exposed to the federal estate tax and its 40% maximum rate. For most of us, this is not a factor.
This is why personalized attention is key, and that is exactly what you receive when you choose our firm to assist you. If you reach out, we will sit down and get to know you, and we will put you at ease from the start. After we gain an understanding of your family dynamic, the extent of your resources, and your objectives, we will provide the appropriate recommendations.
At the end of the process, if you decide to go forward, we will create the optimal plan for you and your family. As we touched upon previously, sometimes updates are necessary, and help will always be just a phone call away if you want to review the existing plan.
If you are ready to set the wheels in motion, you can send us a message through our contact page to request a consultation appointment. We can also be reached by phone at 704-944-3245 in North Carolina (Charlotte and Huntersville) and 606-324-5516 in Ashland, Kentucky or 859-372-6655 in Florence, KY.
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