The Queen of Soul has left us, but her legacy lives on, as do her estate, personal possessions, and musical royalties. To complicate matters, Aretha did not have a will in place before her death.
What will this mean for surviving family members? And how will it impact any royalties from music the soul-singing legend leaves behind?
The Reality of Not Having a Will
With an estimated worth of $80 million, Aretha’s estate is the perfect example of why wills are so necessary. Without one, it’s impossible to truly know who the deceased intended to inherit the property and possessions that remain behind.
As Attorney Christenson explains, “In Michigan… if you die without a will, it’s called dying intestate. There’s a statute that takes over and says how the estate is supposed to be handled and sets a priority for what bills get paid, when and how it gets distributed among the heirs. Interesting thing about that is if you allow that statute to do that, you lose all the control that you would have had.”
Further complicating the matter is the fact that the statute doesn’t clearly address gifts and loans made by the deceased during his or her lifetime. While assets are meant to be split evenly among surviving heirs, it’s not as simple when loans were given to some family members but not others. Situations like this naturally raise questions such as, “Was the money given as a loan or a gift?” and “Will other family members be repaid the cost of the loan as part of the estate?”
Franklin leaves behind four sons and several grandchildren, which means things could get messy without a will. As Christenson points out, “…it’s going to be a very complicated estate and it’s going to be open for a long time.”
Avoid Probate with the Help of Christenson & Fiederlein, PC
At Christenson Fiederlein, PC, we believe it’s never too early or too late to start thinking about your estate and assets. Given Michigan’s intestate laws, the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is plan ahead, and we can help. Backed by decades of experience, our probate and estate planning attorneys are here to help you establish a will or trust that protects your wishes when you’re no longer here to do so yourself.
Contact our Flint estate planning attorneys today for a free consultation. Call (810) 292-3115 or fill out a case evaluation form to get started. For your convenience, we offer flexible appointment times and after-hours meetings.