Texans who downplay the importance of having an estate plan might come up with various justifications for their position. They might think they do not have significant assets to make it necessary to craft a will, a trust or other estate planning device. Those with major assets could simply put it off under the mistaken belief that it is something that can wait for a later time. Regardless of the financial standing, it is important to have an estate plan that suits a person’s needs. This frequently comes to the forefront when a celebrity dies and it is later found that he or she did not have a will as is the case with the late singer Aretha Franklin.
After her death in mid-August, it was discovered that Ms. Franklin had not created a will, trust or any other document to prepare for the event of her death. This was revealed when her four sons filed that they were interested parties in relation to her estate. There was an acknowledgement from one of her lawyers that there was no estate plan and she died intestate – without a will. Because there was no will, the contents of her estate will be revealed to the public. Her niece has asked that she be the personal representative for the estate and perform the duties that would normally be part of the responsibilities of the executor. According to Ms. Franklin’s entertainment attorney, she was encouraged to create a trust, but she did not choose to do so.
People who have major assets, own a business or are prominent should know the importance of estate planning. But it is also imperative for those who are of more modest means to do so as well. There could be property such as a home or a vehicle; the business might not have a clear plan of succession; or there are properties of sentimental value that could lead to family disputes. Regardless of the situation, understanding the value of wills, trusts and the subsets within them can prevent problems when the person dies and ensure that the process goes smoothly without rancor or disagreement.
Ms. Franklin’s case should serve as a warning sign for people across the spectrum to think about their estate planning needs. This is true for people of all ages and their professional or personal family circumstances. A law firm that is experienced with estate planning can explain the importance of crafting a comprehensive document that covers all the bases and to put it into action.