The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC Sept. 4, 2018

Aretha Franklin died without a will or any sort of estate plan in place despite being worth an estimated $80 million at the time of her death. California residents may be able to learn something from the problems that this may create for her heirs. Her sons have listed themselves as interested parties to the estate and chose Franklin's niece to become the personal representative to the estate.

According to an attorney who represented Franklin, failing to leave a will tends to result in family members fighting with each other. This has been the case since Robin Williams passed as his children and third wife are still trying to determine how to settle his estate. Franklin's attorney also said that he tried to get Franklin to create a trust as it could have made settling the estate easier.

Franklin was described as a private person who often demanded that she be paid in cash prior to giving a performance. A trust would likely have protected her privacy after passing. The lesson that people can learn from celebrities who die without an estate plan is to talk with an estate planner as soon as possible. In many cases, doing so will take less time and cost less money than they imagine.

Creating a will or other estate plan documents may help an individual retain greater control over personal property after passing. Language within a will or trust may stipulate who receives a given asset or how it should be used. Individuals can also choose to use a beneficiary designation or title a property in a manner that transfers it to an intended beneficiary immediately upon the current owner's death. This may help allow an asset to be transferred without a legal challenge.

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