Aretha Franklin’s Estate Planning Mistakes

Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly a brilliant singer, songwriter, and pianist, but she made giant estate planning mistakes that you’ll want to take heed of. Franklin, who was divorced, reportedly died without a will or a trust despite having four grown children, one of whom has special needs.

Many Americans don’t have a will or a living trust. A 2017 survey by found that only 4 in 10 adults do. 64% of Gen Xers and 42% of boomers don’t have a will, the study noted. According to the survey’s respondents, the top reason for not establishing an estate plan was that they simply “hadn’t gotten around to it.”

One of Franklin’s lawyers, Don Wilson, said he tried to get her to create a will or trust to keep her estate private and out of probate. She never followed through.

Now not everyone will have assets worth close to Franklin’s reported $80 million estate, but the actual dollar value of your assets isn’t the point. It’s about making sure your loved ones receive what you want the way you want.

And if you have a special needs child, you might consider working with an estate lawyer to set up a special needs trust. A special needs trust, which is not subject to probate court, lets you contribute funds for your child’s benefit while enabling him or her to continue getting benefits, such as Medicaid and Security Supplemental Income, which require recipients to have no more than $2,000 in assets and limit their income.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.