Many in Palm Beach and across the country were saddened by the recent death of music legend Aretha Franklin. It’s surprising that someone of her status and wealth did not even have a will. Without at least that document, the administration of her estate will likely be challenging. The challenges her surviving loved ones face may make it clear why wills are important for every adult no matter how many assets exist.
Without a will, Franklin’s estate will be subject to the intestacy laws of her home state. That means that it will be up to the state to determine who inherits her estate. In addition, taxing authorities may receive a significant portion of her estate since no efforts were made to reduce the amount of her taxable estate.
However, a will needs to be written properly as well. Another celebrity, Dale Earnhardt, tasked his wife with handling the administration of his estate. He also gave her control of the business, which meant that his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost control of his signature and name. The ensuing legal battle was time-consuming and expensive. His father may have done better to either inform his son of how things would work or make different arrangements.
When it comes to wills, Palm Beach residents may want to consider making sure they have at least this document in order to retain the choice of who inherits their property after death. In addition, it may be a good idea to discuss the terms of the will with family members as well so that they have an understanding of what will occur. In some cases, it may provide them with the opportunity to point out an issue that could end up causing a significant amount of confusion, contention and cost when the time comes.