Estate Planning & Probate Specialists

Estate Planning & Probate Specialists

  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Blog
  4.  → Lessons learned from Aretha Franklin’s estate nightmare

Lessons learned from Aretha Franklin’s estate nightmare

Aretha Franklin was a female vocalist known as the Queen of Soul. With fans around Texas, the nation and worldwide, many mourned when this legendary singer passed away in 2018. From a career that spanned decades, Franklin’s estate had an estimated net worth of $80 million after her death. By avoiding a few mistakes, your loved ones won’t deal with the estate planning perils Aretha Franklin’s beneficiaries endured for years.

Avoid creating multiple wills

Creating a will gives you control over who receives your assets after you pass away. Having one clear will is incredibly helpful. Aretha Franklin had multiple wills, including a handwritten one found between her couch cushions and a professionally drafted will safely locked away. In Texas, handwritten wills are as valid as ones expertly drafted by a professional.

Make your will’s terms crystal clear

Another problem with Aretha Franklin’s estate was that her multiple wills had varying terms. One of her wills required a beneficiary complete business courses to receive anything from her estate. That requirement was not in her other will. When multiple wills don’t include the same terms, it creates more work and confusion for your beneficiaries.

Don’t forget about tax debts

$80 million is an impressive amount of money to almost anybody. When legal teams eventually settled Franklin’s estate in 2022, nearly $8 million went to the IRS. After someone passes away, no matter the worth of their estate, they must pay IRS-related tax debts first.

Have an expert help with will creation

Unless you’re an expert at estate planning, it’s not advisable to write your own will. The confusion created by Aretha Franklin’s estate caused her beneficiaries to spend years of waiting wrapped up in a legal nightmare. With unclear will terms and more than one will, Aretha Franklin’s estate took four years to settle.

You don’t need to be worth anywhere near $80 million to benefit from having an estate plan. Prepare for life’s uncertainties by getting your estate in order sooner than later.