McDonald Warner - Probate, Elder Law, & Special Needs

Prince, Aretha Franklin left many estate-related questions

Music fans in Arizona may have been saddened by the passing of Aretha Franklin. For her family, however, mourning may lead into what could be a big legal battle over her estate. Franklin died without a will, according to one of her lawyers.

This is certainly not the first time a celebrity has died without a will. Prince didn't have one either, and when he passed away a few years ago, a legal battle ensued involving his siblings and others who claimed to be his heirs.

Aretha Franklin is survived by four grown sons. But how her estate will be settled is going to be up to the courts. It will enter probate, which means that the court will oversee the distribution of her estate, which is reportedly valued at over $80 million. The federal government will get about $27 million of that, and for her family, none of this will be a private matter. Probate means that all the details about the settlement of the estate will be public information.

One of Franklin's lawyers says that he tried to get the late singer to create a will or trust. He told the media that whenever there is no will, there usually ends up being a fight over the estate. However, he's hoping that won't happen in this case.

While most people don't have $80 million in assets, a will can still be beneficial to virtually all estate owners. However, a traditional will is not the only option for estate planning. Trusts and living wills are other options that could allow more flexibility. Someone who is interested in estate planning could benefit from the guidance of a lawyer who could explain the options and give advice.

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