The “Queen of Soul” passed away August 16, 2018. Aretha Franklin left many of us saddened by her sudden passing at the age of 76. What has also come as a shock to those who love her and her music is that she has appeared to have left her legacy unprotected.
Rolling Stone's Article on the Queen of Soul
Recent reports have shared that the woman who was capable of creating amazing songs such as “I Never Loved a Man” and cover versions of songs such as “Respect”, failed to create an estate plan for herself. This means that for much of her life she was unprotected as she did not have documents such as a durable power of attorney or health care surrogate. Further, it means she died “intestate”. In other words, she died without a last will and testament or trust agreement in place.
Forbes Article on Avoiding the Estate Planning Mistakes of Aretha Franklin and Prince
In light of what has happened, many of our clients have asked us what the impact of dying “intestate” can be. It is our goal to shed some light on this often confusing topic and to help you plan forward for yourself, your loved ones, your business, and your legacy.
1. Intestate means you did not choose your heirs. Without a last will and testament or trust agreement in place, your estate will be divided according to the intestacy laws of your state. While there are times this division may be correct, often times it is not. It also does not allow for charitable planning.
2. Intestate means you did not name a personal representative or a trustee. This means you did not choose the person you want to manage passing your assets to your heirs at your death. When it comes to such an important task, you want to make sure that you choose the right person to handle this for you and not leave it to chance.
3. Intestate means your affairs may not be private.
Privacy is critical for the the transfer of your assets at your death. It helps ensure there will be no complications and can help reduce the potential for litigation. Through a trust agreement, you can ensure your estate will not end up in the public process of probate.
4. Intestate means disabled beneficiaries may not be protected. Aretha Franklin passed away with four children, one of whom has special needs. Unfortunately, when a disabled person receives an inheritance this can disqualify him or her from access to valuable government benefits. It is through the use of a special needs trust that you can protect a disabled loved one from the loss of these benefits.
5. Intestate means there may be fights over your estate. When you do not have a plan in place for your family members to follow, it can lead to confusion, heartache, and infighting. Further, through the probate process challenges can arise. In the case of an intestate estate, this may be what happens to your loved ones.
While we know it can be hard to plan for a time when you are no longer here, do not put it off. We are here to help you secure the planning you need and ensure that what you care about most is protected. Do not wait to contact us to schedule an appointment.