Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul”, passed away on August 16, 2018. The amazing creator of hits such as “I Never Loved a Man” and “Think” left many of her fans saddened that they would never hear another hit from her again.
Perhaps the most perplexing question now is why would this multimillion dollar artist leave her work, her legacy, and her family unprotected? Recent reports have informed us that Aretha Franklin did die without any estate planning in place.
Passing away without an estate plan means that Aretha Franklin’s estate is “intestate”. This means she did not have a last will and testament or trust agreement in place. In some ways, this is not surprising. It has recently been reported that only one in four Americans today have an estate plan in place.
These same reports share that most Americans either do not want to think about a time when they will not be here or simply do not think estate planning is important. Unfortunately, these are dangerous assumptions to make. While there could be an argument that one does not care what happens to his or her money at death, estate planning covers much more. In fact, without estate planning documents in place, such as durable powers of attorney or health care surrogates, there may be no one with legal authority to act for you in a crisis during your life.
In other ways, her decision is surprising. Aretha Franklin is worth over eighty million dollars. We might expect that a person of that net worth would at least have a last will and testament in place. After all, the federal estate tax can be expected to assess forty percent against the amount of her estate over the tax limit. All of us, even if we are not multimillionaires need to plan for estate and gift taxes.
Further, Aretha Franklin left four children behind. One of these children is known to be disabled. The lack of her desire to create a special needs trust for this child is surprising. When you are planning for the future of your disabled child, a special needs trust can ensure that he or she will not be disqualified for any public benefits that he or she would otherwise be entitled to receive.
We know that Aretha Franklin’s choices may leave you with questions. We encourage you to ask us your questions and to plan forward. You do not want to leave your loved ones facing these challenges at a time they will already be facing the loss of you. Do not wait to contact us to get started creating the estate planning you need.