Aretha Franklin’s 80 Million Dollar Estate May Be in Jeopardy

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Aretha Franklin’s 80 Million Dollar Estate May Be in Jeopardy

Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will

…and her estimated $80 million estate could be in jeopardy.

Deeply private in life, Aretha Franklin’s estate will be laid bare for all to see, as according to court documents, she died without having a will or trust in place.

Legal Documents

Documents filed by her four sons in Oakland County Probate Court on Tuesday acknowledged the absence of a Last Will & Testament and named themselves as parties interested in her estate. The relevant clause reads: “The decedent died intestate and after exercising reasonable diligence, I am unaware of any unrevoked testamentary instrument relating to property located in this state….” Additionally, Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, asked to be appointed as the estate’s personal representative, which could result in some protracted litigation in the probate court.

Lack of Wealth Transfer Planning

Even if the family is on the same page, Franklin’s assets (the exact net worth is unknown, but it’s estimated at roughly $80 million and includes the rights to a number of her hit songs) pass through intestacy. That being said, the complete lack of wealth transfer planning on Franklin’s part will likely result in Uncle Sam taking a huge tax bite out of that figure.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Franklin’s long-time entertainment lawyer Don Wilson doesn’t paint a particularly optimistic picture. “I was after her for a number of years to do a Trust,” he said. “It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate and kept things private.” Wilson continued, noting, “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.“

The Time to Act is Now

Whether Wilson’s fears come to pass remains to be seen; however, what is certain is that Franklin should have followed her own advice and taken some time to think—think about what your trust will be about… the time to act is now…. Before it’s too late.



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