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Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will, Furthering Family Woes

If you have been paying attention to any news source in recent weeks, then you know that the famous American singer-songwriter Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16th, 2018. If you kept following news stories about her passing, then you also know that her loved ones discovered after her passing that she never created a will or trust to direct her surviving family members what to do with her estate, which is valued at approximately $80 million. Not only are her loved ones mourning her loss, but they are also facing legal woes caused by this unfortunate lack of estate planning foresight.

The news of Aretha’s lack of an estate plan has brought nationwide attention to the importance of making a will or trust sooner than later. The Aretha Franklin estate is also certainly not in a unique situation. An estimated 60% of all adult Americans do not have a will or trust in place. This begs the question: do you have one?

What a Will Does & Why You Should Have One

A will – also called a last will and testament in some legal settings – is a fundamental building block for the estate plans of many people. A properly created will allows you to record your wishes for how your loved ones should manage your property and the care of minors or dependents in your stead after you pass away.

When there is no will in place, your surviving family members and other interested parties will have to more or less fend for themselves to try to claim a portion of your estate. Using a will, you can name beneficiaries of specific parts of your estate, as well as giving reasons as to why you made that choice. For example, you can decide to gift your home to your sibling because they have always lived in small apartments. You and your loved ones will appreciate the peace of mind you all receive when knowing a will has been created.

Perhaps worst of all, without a will, minor children and dependents will have an uncertain future ahead of them. Knowing who will take responsibility of your loved ones will give everyone confidence in possible future outcomes, as well as ample time to make appropriate preparations for that responsibility. With this in mind, it is clear that wills are important for essentially everyone to create, from people who own valuable estates to parents.

What Happens If No Will is Created?

When someone passes away without a will, it is called “dying intestate.” Your estate will be handled and distributed according to your state’s estate planning rules, often without much room for argument or interpretation. As such, your estate could be distributed completely opposite of what you would have decided had you made a will for yourself.

Do you have a will? If not, now is the right time to get started on one. Call (301) 281-4817 to get into contact with Gray Legal, P.C. and our estate planning lawyers in Prince George’s County. During an initial consultation, we can review the basics of wills, trusts, and estate plans, as well as helping you decide what you should do next. We can also help you review a preexisting will to see if it should be updated or modified.

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