Who Will Get Aretha Franklin’s Estate?

You would be hard-pressed to find someone that had not been touched by the voice of Aretha Franklin. Also, I admire her for her fortitude in a male-dominated industry, who sold more than 75 million records in her lifetime.

What Happens to Aretha Franklin’s Estate?

My profession has made me curious about estates. Did they spend all of their money? Did they set-up a trust or a will?

Aretha Franklin, died August 16, 2018, in her home city of Detroit after battling pancreatic cancer. Days later, her four sons filed court documents alleging that she died intestate, i.e. there was no will or trust in her estate. If the court filing is confirmed and no will or trust is found then the Probate Code will determine how the assets are divided. In other words, Franklin gave no intention through a trust or a will as to how her assets should be distributed when she died and the matter will need to be resolved by a Judge using the Probate Code.

The value of Franklin’s estate is unknown, but she is believed to have passed away owning the rights to her original compositions, including the classic “Think.” Thus, if she invested her money then the estate could be of a high value. Since, the probate of an intestate estate is public, unless the Judge decides to make it a private matter, then it is likely the value of the estate will come out.

The intestate estates of some artists and celebrities end up in costly and ongoing litigation, especially when significant assets are up for debate, for example Prince’s estate or Marilyn Monroe. Franklin’s estate could go through expensive litigation between the children. However, it is likely that it could be divided evenly and closed out in a year. The possibility of litigation is higher when there is high value estate and they die dies without giving instructions to those who go on living.

There Are Many Reasons to Get Your Own Estate Plan Done…

  1. If you know how you want your estate, i.e. home and other assets to be distributed and do not want to risk having a state Judge decide.
  2. Also, if you want to reduce the chance of family bickering, even though I know what you are thinking, “my kids would never fight.” In most cases the kids do end up fighting. I would consider having a will or trust drafted.
  3. Additionally, If you want to add the benefit of some privacy, a separate revocable trust may be your best bet.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate planning, and can help with your trust administration, probate administration, wills and trusts. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.