In August, singer Aretha Franklin died at the age of 76 years old, without a Will. Which means her 4 sons will inherit her property, but only after a long public Probate Process. And since she was married twice and since then divorce it may result in fighting among families, lawyers, and others especially when it comes to royalties from music rights. And based on Court Documents filed with the Probate Court, Ms. Franklin’s niece was appointed to be the personal representative of the estate, so she’ll be entitled to some part of the estate as well.
So, what could Aretha Franklin have done? The simplest and probably the easiest would have been to have a Will designating who she wanted to handle her estate and how she wanted it to be handled. Now, this would eliminate the mess of trying to figure out who the heirs are and who should receive a piece of the Estate, but what it doesn’t do is keep the matter private.
In order to keep her finances private and avoid the Probate process altogether, she needed a Trust either a revocable trust or an irrevocable trust. A Trust would have kept all of her finances private and distributed to her beneficiaries as she wished.
This is very different than John McCain’s death. John McCain, a US Senator, died at the age of 81, his funeral was public and from the TV we learned that he planned out all the details. But what we don’t know about is his finances and how is assets are being distributed. It’s almost as if he didn’t have anything to leave to his loved ones… but we know that’s just not the case. If I had to guess, John McCain had an Estate Plan – one that included a Will, Advanced Healthcare Directives (think Healthcare Power of Attorney), a Durable POA, and a Trust.
If Littlejohn Law was her law firm, we would have set her up with a Revocable Living Trust, which would allow her to have control over her assets and at the same time make sure that the matter truly remains private. We would have planned everything out so that it seemed like she didn’t have any assets to provide to her loved ones – all while knowing that her assets were promptly in the hands of her loved ones.
Who do you want your Estate to be like McCain’s or Franklin’s?
What do you want to leave behind for your loved ones a mess or a flawlessly executed plan?
Call 740.346.2899 to get your Free Estate Plan Review including your detailed written analysis.