It has been reported that Aretha Franklin left three handwritten wills at her Detroit home before her death, the latest one dated 2014 which has some information crossed through and some words hard to decipher. The most recent will was found under a cushion in her living room, with the other two found in a locked cabinet. Her lawyer has filed all three wills with the court, asking for a ruling on which one (if any) are valid under Michigan law. The Guardian have reported that the wills have been shared with Aretha’s four sons, two of which object to the content of the wills. There is also allegedly disharmony between her sons about her assets, particularly the sale of a piece of land adjacent to Aretha’s property, which one of her sons does not want to sell.
The reports about Aretha’s estate echoes those of Prince, whose estate is still on-going due to disharmony amongst beneficiaries because a proper estate planning process was not followed before his death.
The reported problems with Aretha’s will highlights the importance of not only taking advice about the content of the will but ensuring that it is validly executed. There have been a number of cases publicised recently where a ‘DIY’ will has been completed and caused problems after the person making the will has died. By completing a will validly, clearly and with the appropriate advice, it can save many problems after death, including avoiding unnecessary court involvement and potentially saving tax.
For more information about preparing a will, please contact one of the Private Client team or call 01892 510000.