Call Us For A Free Consultation


Why Didn’t Aretha Franklin Have a Will?

The Law Office of Libby Banks > Estate Planning  > Why Didn’t Aretha Franklin Have a Will?

Why Didn’t Aretha Franklin Have a Will?

By Libby Banks, The Law Office of Libby Banks

Sadly, Aretha Franklin passed away recently. The Queen of Soul gave us so much joy with her music.

What a surprise to learn that she passed away with no will. With an $80 Million estate, she needed far more than a will. She needed planning to avoid or minimize taxes, planning for the assets she left and to preserve her legacy the way she would want. By failing to plan, she lost the opportunities that were available to protect her estate.

Why didn’t she have a plan in place? We may never know. But I do know some of the reasons people fail to make a will or put other estate planning in place. Here are a few of those reasons – debunked!

Estate planning is talking about my death and that’s morbid and depressing.

For many people, talking about what will happen to their estate is very difficult and depressing. They avoid it because they don’t want to think about death or what will happen when they are gone. Some worry that by putting a plan in place, they are potentially bringing about their own demise!

However, estate planning is about more than your death. When we do an estate plan, we also make a plan for your incapacity. If you are in a car wreck and can’t handle your finances, who will pay your mortgage, keep the lights on, and keep the bills paid? We want to make it easy for the right person (someone you pick ahead of time) to take care of your finances if you couldn’t –including as you age.

It may not be fun to take care of your estate planning. My clients often tell me how painless I made the process. Working with an attorney you trust, like, and can relate to helps make the planning much more pleasant.

I’m not old enough to worry about estate planning yet.

Many clients come into my office saying that they realized they were at “that age” and needed to do estate planning. At my estate planning seminars, when we discuss this issue, I flash a picture on the screen: Prince!  Prince died at 57 years old. He clearly was not planning on that, because he didn’t make a will or do any form of estate planning. Another example is James Dean. He died at 26, and his assets went to a father who left him to be raised by an aunt and uncle after his mother died. Was that what he wanted? Probably not, but by failing to plan, he left the decision to state law – and the law gave it to his father.

No matter how old they are – any couple with children should have a plan . A homeowner, regardless of their age, should have a plan. And every adult should have a Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney so that the person they appoint can handle their affairs if they are incapacitated.

The truth is we don’t know what the future holds. I hope my clients don’t need the plans I put in place for many, many years after we complete the estate plan. But the peace of mind they get from having that plan in place – just in case – is a wonderful feeling.

I don’t want to give up control and if I create a trust, I will.

The revocable living trust that is the cornerstone of much of my planning doesn’t cause you to lose control – it gives you more control. During your lifetime, you are the trustee and the beneficiary. You are in charge, and you can change, revise or revoke the trust. You can buy things as trustee, sell the property as trustee and deal with all of your property in the trust much like you do when you own the property outside the trust.

The trust also gives you control when you are incapacitated. Instead of leaving it to chance or to the family to decide, you have chosen who is going to succeed you as trustee and take care of you and your finances.. You provide guidelines for the trustee. On your death, you have designated who is going to wrap up your estate, who gets your assets, and when and how they will receive their inheritance.

My estate won’t be subject to estate or inheritance taxes, so I don’t need a plan.

Aretha couldn’t claim this one! However, many people believe that, because the federal estate tax exemption is $11.2 Million, they don’t need to worry about planning. However, there are other taxes that proper estate planning can avoid or minimize; one example is capital gains taxes.

Also, there are other expenses besides taxes that we avoid with proper planning. The biggest is court costs and attorney’s fees. Without a proper plan, we will likely have to file a court proceeding called a probate to settle your estate. In my office, that costs more than most of my estate planning work – sometimes by a substantial amount.

I’ll be gone, so it’s somebody else’s problem!

This is a mistaken belief. As we mentioned previously, estate planning deals with what happens when you are incapacitated and who will deal with your finances when you can’t. You’ll still be here, and it may be a big problem for you. Without a proper plan, your loved ones will probably have to go to court to get control of your finances so they can pay your bills and take care of you. That means the money that should go towards your care is going into the pockets of one or more attorneys. Avoiding that is your problem, and failing to plan can cause problems for both you and your family.

If you haven’t done your estate planning, think about doing it now. A proper estate plan will make things easier for you and your loved ones throughout your life.

For more estate planning information, schedule your free initial consultation. Call me at (602)375-6752, email libby@libbybanks.com or use our scheduling app on my website:  Libbybanks.com.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.