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Three wills found at late singer’s home spark validity questions

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2019 | Estate Planning, Firm News

It is not unusual for Floridians and people across the nation to put off the creation of an estate plan. Perhaps they do not want to think about their inevitable death. Or it could be due to a misconception that only people who have significant assets need wills or trusts. It might be because they are simply procrastinating, intend to do it “at some point.” A vital point to remember is that an estate plan is crucial to shielding loved ones and having asset protection.

For those who do not believe an estate plan is necessary, they need only look at instances in which wealthy and prominent people either did not have an estate plan or did not legally execute a will to see how much trouble it can cause. One such case involves singer Aretha Franklin. When Ms. Franklin died in August 2018, her attorneys and family members stated that they did not believe she had a will. However, upon searching her home in Detroit, three holographic wills were discovered. Two were dated 2010 and one was dated 2014. They were filed with probate court.

The March 2014 will was found in a couch and was in a spiral notebook. It is said to be impossible to read with notes crossed out and others written in the margins. The other wills from 2010 were discovered in a locked cabinet. Her lawyer is asking the court to determine if these three wills are valid. Ms. Franklin’s niece is representing the estate. Before this discovery, there had been an approval for experts to give an appraisal of the assets in the estate. Back taxes were paid and there is an ongoing claim from the Internal Revenue Service. The hearing regarding the estate will be held in June.

While Ms. Franklin has substantial assets, having an estate plan is not limited to those who are wealthy or famous. It is a vital step to ensure that there are no disagreements and the situation will not be chaotic after a person has died. Often, people who are under the impression that because they do not own a home or have a vast financial portfolio, they do not need an estate plan. Under closer scrutiny, they do find that they have items of financial or personal value that need to be addressed. A law firm that assists people with wills and probate can help individuals avoid the pitfalls of not having an estate plan.