Queen of Soul Dies Intestate
Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, passed away at the age of 76, the victim of advanced pancreatic cancer at her home outside of Detroit. Her family released the statement: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
Documents filed by her four sons in the Oakland Probate Court reveal that she died intestate., meaning she left no Will or trust when she passed away. The documents reveal that Ms. Franklin had an estimated net worth of $80 million and that her sons are requested that her niece, Sabrina Owens, be appointed the Personal Representative of her estate.
Under the tax law passed by Congress last year, Ms. Franklin could pass as much as $11.2 million in assets estate tax free upon her death. Her estate in excess of the estate tax free amount will be subject to a 40% federal estate tax. The lack of planning will assure that the IRS extracts the maximum amount of estate taxes from her heirs. In addition, many of her assets, such as the rights to her many hit songs, are illiquid and hard to value. This means her estate, much like Prince’s and Michael Jackson’s, could be tied up with the IRS and stuck in the probate process for many years.
Don Wilson, her long time entertainment lawyer, didn’t paint an optimistic picture of the future of Aretha’s estate. He stated “I was after her for a number of years to do a trust.” “It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate and kept things private.” He went on to state “I just hope [Franklin’s estate] doesn’t end up getting so hotly contested. Any time they don’t leave a trust or Will, there always ends up being a fight.” For now, it does not appear that there is dissension among Ms.Franklin’s heirs. Proper planning could have kept the extent of Aretha Franklin’s estate private, avoided probate, reduced estate taxes and eased the transition of her wealth to her children. It is unfortunate that she did not heed her attorney’s advice.
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You can get more information about estate planning and probate avoidance on our website. If you have a desire to discuss your estate plan, call the estate planning lawyers at Dennis M. Sandoval, a Professional Law Corporation at 951-787-7711.