In her storied career, the Queen of Soul had gold and platinum records galore, a priceless talent and the enduring love of millions of devoted fans. However, Aretha Franklin did not have a will or trust when she died of pancreatic cancer a few days ago.
The intensely private 76-year-old icon was known for her powerful voice and graceful style on hits such as “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” Her assets are about to become very public in probate court, however.
She has four sons, and according to a news report, Michigan estate law requires that her assets are to be divided among them equally. Her niece has asked the probate court to appoint her a representative of the estate.
Franklin’s long-time attorney told a Detroit newspaper that he had urged her to create a will and trust. Don Wilson said he told the singer that her matters involving her $80 million estate could then be kept private.
A financial adviser told MarketWatch that if people don’t plan for the end of life, “someone else will dictate how their assets are distributed.”
Franklin had a singular singing talent, but she was not alone in failure to create a will. Six in 10 U.S. adults do not have wills and nearly two-thirds of parents with kids under 18 have wills, MarketWatch reports. About half of those without a will say they just haven’t gotten to it yet and 29 percent said they don’t have assets to leave behind.