Aretha Franklin may have been the Queen of Soul, but she made gigantic estate planning mistakes that you should avoid. Franklin, who was divorced, died without a will or a trust despite having four grown children, one of whom has special needs.
If you follow in her footsteps could mean your loved ones won’t receive the inheritance you intended; disbursements could be long-delayed; ugly family squabbles may ensue; and your estate might owe additional taxes and your financial life will become a public record. If you have a special needs child, he or she may wind up losing some government benefits.
Many Americans don’t have a will or a living trust. A 2017 survey by found that only 4 in 10 adults do. The study noted 64 percent of Gen Xers and 42 percent of boomers don’t have a will. The top reason for not taking these easy estate-planning steps, according to survey respondents: they “hadn’t gotten around to it.”
Chances are you don’t have anywhere near Franklin’s reported $80 million. But the actual dollar value isn’t the point. It’s about making sure your loved ones receive what you want the way you want them to.
If you don’t have a will, your estate will wind up in probate court, which means it will become public for anyone to see.
In Franklin’s case, the feds will take a big bite, too. There’s a 40 percent estate tax on an estate’s assets over $11.18 million (the exception to this: money or assets left to charity). If Franklin’s estate truly is worth $80 million, the Internal Revenue Service will snag $27.5 million of that.
Get a will for Pete’s sake. You can do it online but your better off having a real attorney to make sure it is totally legal. If you don’t have a will, your estate will wind up in probate court, which means it will become public for anyone to see and create hassles for your loved ones.