Aretha Franklin died nearly a year ago. Unfortunately for her family, the late singer left behind no will to explain how her substantial assets would be distributed.
Many observers correctly predicted at the time that family members would soon be divided over how her estate would be handled. According to news reports, heated legal battles have broken out in courtrooms trying to sort out Franklin’s estate. In fact, the probate court recently asserted its control, placing estate administration under court supervision.
That decision is exactly what estate planning attorneys try to help their clients avoid: having the court taking control and making decisions over the sale and distribution of assets, rather than making those decisions yourself.
In the recent hearing, the judge also said a handwriting expert will be allowed to examine three wills purportedly penned by the late Queen of Soul. The documents were apparently found at her home earlier this year.
According to press reports, Franklin’s estate has an estimated value of about $80 million. However, the estate is growing. It reportedly earned $1.1 million from a gospel documentary and there is apparently an offer on the table for a biographical feature film about the singer.
Other famous singers have also died in recent years, leaving behind sizable estates without wills or trusts to protect their heirs:
- Prince died in 2016, leaving an estate estimated at $200 million
- Amy Winehouse died in 2011, leaving behind an estate worth nearly $5 million
- Barry White passed away in 2003 with an estate estimated at $20 million
Many significant issues could have been resolved by making use of estate planning tools such as a will, trust and more.
You can protect yourself, your assets and your family by speaking to a Cocoa estate planning attorney.