Family and friends of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, will be celebrating the life of the superstar at her funeral today.
The singer passed away at the age of 76, leaving behind an estate which is reported to be worth $80 million, but she did not leave a Will.
Solicitor, Emma Blakesley, looks into the benefits of preparing a Will and why it is surprising that Aretha did not make any provisions before she died.
The law of the American State where Aretha was domiciled dictates that, as she died intestate (died without leaving a Will), her assets will be shared equally amongst her children. Franklin was survived by her four children: Clarence, aged 63; Edward, 61; Teddy, 54 and Kecalf, 48. However, her Estate may be open to claims.
Despite her battle with pancreatic cancer for several years prior to her death, Aretha did not prepare a Will to declare how she wanted her Estate to be distributed. This is particularly surprising as her son, Clarence, has special needs and will require medical and financial support for the rest of his life.
Many stars before Franklin have also neglected estate planning such as Prince, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse and Heath Ledger.
The laws in England and Wales specify that if a person dies intestate leaving a spouse/civil partner, then the spouse/civil partner keeps all the assets (including property), up to £250,000 and all the personal possessions, whatever their value.
The remainder of the estate will be shared out so that the surviving spouse/civil partner gets an absolute interest in half of the remainder and the other half is then divided equally between any surviving children or grandchildren – blood or adoptive but not step-children.
By preparing a Will, you can specify who you want to benefit from your Estate (you could name anyone as a Beneficiary) and what should happen to their share of the Estate if they die before you. You can appoint Guardians to look after children under the age of 18 years and choose who should be your Executors, to administer your Estate, when you die.
If Franklin had prepared a Will before she died, she may have considered setting up a trust for her son, Clarence, as he may be unable to deal with his financial assets and receiving a large sum of inheritance may also affect any benefits he was in receipt of.
If you like would further information on preparing a Will or Estate Planning, please contact Gill Tobin or Emma Blakesley from our Probate Department on 01702 443484.