Lessons The Queen of Soul is Teaching Us About Estate Planning - The Bradley Law Firm

Recently, we lost the Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018, leaving many of her fans surprised and deeply saddened. Even at 76 years old, she still had many hits that are still being sung today including “I Never Loved a Man”, “Think”, and her own funky version of “Respect”.

What may be even more shocking than her passing, however, is the state of affairs that she has left her multi-million dollar estate in.

It has been reported that her estate is valued at over eighty million dollars. Unfortunately, her assets, her legacy, and even her children were left unprotected. At this time, sources are reporting that Aretha Franklin passed away without an estate plan in place. This is a terrifying prospect for her remaining family. Let us share with you the insights that this failure to plan is providing to us as well as tips you can use to make sure your family, your business, and your legacy are protected from uncertainty.

1. Aretha Franklin passed away “intestate”. It is said that Aretha Franklin passed away with no estate plan in place. This means that she did not have a last will and testament or a trust agreement. Through these legal planning documents, you are able to name beneficiaries, appoint a personal representative or a trustee to oversee management of your affairs, and protect your loved ones. Without either document, the deceased is determined to have died “intestate” and must have his or her estate handled under those laws. This will mean a probate must be opened to manage the transfer of her assets to her heirs and to pay her creditors.

2. She left four adult children without instructions. When you pass away without a last will and testament or trust agreement in place, you do not provide any instructions in regard to distributing your assets. There is no specific, deliberate, and legal guidance for distribution of assets to family members, friends, causes you care about or charities. An estate plan is a way for you to establish your legacy. Not only can this be a difficult time for your loved ones when there is no estate plan in place, it can also leave your estate vulnerable to challenges, contests, and infighting between family members.

3. One of her children has special needs. It is every parent’s worst nightmare to leave his or her disabled child unprotected. When you have a disabled child and fail to create a plan that incorporates protecting his or her government benefits or choosing someone to watch over the monies he or she will inherit you may do just that…create a nightmare! Through the use of a special needs trust you can plan to protect the child’s inheritance as well as preserve any government benefits he or she may be entitled to receive both now and in the future.

4. Potential estate tax liability. Perhaps even more concerning is the potential estate tax liability Aretha Franklin’s family may be facing. When a person passes away with assets above the estate tax limit, then he or she can be subject to an additional “death tax” of forty percent of the overage amount. While most of us may not have her multi-millions, estate tax planning is an important part of anyone’s estate plan.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see Americans today pass away without estate planning in place. In fact, recent studies reveal that only one in four adults has an estate plan. The lack of an estate plan can cause more harm than good. Do not leave your family confused and frustrated at a time they will be grieving over you. Do not wait to contact us to get started with the planning that you need to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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