By Jonathan Goldberg, J.D., CPA

We all love the sound and music of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Her contributions to music and to the community of Detroit will be greatly missed. However, one thing that Aretha Franklin failed to do was to establish a will or trust.

The family of Aretha Franklin filed a probate proceeding in Oakland County Probate Court. As a result, her assets will then be distributed under the laws of the State of Michigan as she did not have a will. In her case, the assets will be distributed to her four children. However, frequently with celebrities, other family members and other creditors will try to make significant claims against the estate to obtain money. One case of having a probate extended for a lengthy time is that of musician Ike Turner. His estate is still being litigated, eleven years after his death.

Because there is a probate, Aretha Franklin’s finances are now in full public view. Generally, we recommend having a trust and avoiding any type of private information being made public.
Unfortunately, too many people don’t make this area a priority. In fact, according to a Caring.com survey done in 2017, only 42 percent of U.S. adults have estate planning documents such as a will or a trust.

By having a trust and properly transferring assets into the trust, upon death one would not need a probate for those assets owned by the trust. We recommend establishing a trust to avoid a probate, as well as the cost and delays in transferring assets. But it also helps keep one’s information out of the public eye as was previously mentioned. One of Franklin’s well-known hits, “Think”, was not instituted by her, because she should have thought about the importance of proper estate planning including a trust.

If you don’t have a proper estate plan, or if your life situations have changed and you need to update your current plan, please give us a call so we can schedule an appointment to make sure you won’t have a situation like the Queen of Soul’s impacting your family after your death.