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Have a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T… Make a Will

Aretha Franklin, singer, songwriter and civil rights activist, was no stranger to the top of the billboard charts during her long tenure as the Queen of Soul. In fact, her musical accolades included 44 Grammy Award nominations of which she took home the top spot 18 times. Her achievement not only cemented her place in history but also made her the third most winning female artist in Grammy history.

But in the wake of her death, Aretha Franklin’s name can be found on another list among some of the world’s most prominent artists. Artists like Amy Winehouse, Prince, Bob Marley, Jimmy Hendrix and now Aretha Franklin are just a few of the many world-renowned artists who died without a leaving a will.
According to legal experts, Franklin’s estimated $80 million estate should be evenly divided among her four adult sons: Ted White Jr., Kecalf Franklin, Edward Franklin and Clarence Franklin. But if history is any testament to what will actually happen to Franklin’s estate, given similar situations from high-profile celebrity estates in the past, the settlement of Franklin’s assets will be no simple matter.

Take for example Prince, who died in 2016 without leaving a will and whose estate was estimated to be worth between $150 million and $300 million. After more than 2 years of litigation between the rightful heirs of his estate the matter of what belongs to who has yet to be resolved.

Why Have a Will?

So, if passing away without a will can leave your loved ones with so many legal headaches then why would these famous celebrities go years without seeking any tax or legal counsel?

The answer is often quite simple – planning for one’s own eventual demise can be depressing. Add the fact that estate planning can be complex and expensive, many celebrities choose to forgo the endeavor altogether.

In fact, according to a 2015 survey by Rocket Lawyer, 64% of Americans don’t have a will. Even more alarming, 70% of those aged 45-54 have no estate planning or will set in place at all.

But with most financial decisions we make during our lifetime, and non-financial for that matter, we often take into account other factors including the wellbeing of our friends and loved ones.

You wouldn’t intentionally make decisions that would cause legal headaches for your loved ones when you’re alive so why leave them to fight those battles alone when you pass away? For those still debating if they should draft a will or at least consider estate planning here are three reasons why you should act sooner rather than later.

  • Succession planning for family-run businesses – for those who own and operate a business with one or more family members it is crucial to have a will and a succession plan in place. Business assets are not as liquid as investment accounts and many high net worth individuals hold the majority of their estate within a business entity. Trying to untangle the assets of a business without a will is almost impossible without causing headaches for the remaining family members who run the day to day operations.
  • Name a legal guardian to care for your children – there are many non-financial reasons why you need a will and naming a legal guardian for your children is one of them. If you were to die without leaving a will, a court would ultimately decide who should care for your kids.
  • Decide who gets, or doesn’t get, your assets when you die – your belongings not only have value on the open market but they also hold sentimental value to your loved ones. If you were to pass away without leaving a will then you’d leave the fate of your most prized family possessions to the ruling of a court. Something that has been passed down for generations could end up at an auction instead of with a family member who cherishes the particular item.

So have a little respect for your family and loved ones and leave them with the decisions made. If you want to learn more about estate planning or how you can draft a will please consult with a legal or tax advisor or fill in the form below and we will contact you.

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