While many people in Ohio may love Aretha Franklin’s music, they may want to take a different path when it comes to their estate planning decisions. After the Queen of Soul passed away in August 2018, it was generally believed that she never executed a will. As a result, her estate has remained in the probate courts since that time, with relatives struggling over how her significant assets will be distributed, including valuable song royalties with ongoing income. More recently, three different handwritten wills were located in different locations and proffered to the court; it is not clear if any of them have legal standing.

Because Franklin died without a will and left behind a large estate, a substantial amount of money has been spent on legal and court fees. In addition, family differences and disputes have been exacerbated by the amount of money at stake from her estate. Many people may want to avoid this outcome for their own loved ones after they pass away. In order to do so, the first step in making an estate plan is often executing a formal will. People may opt to work with an estate planning lawyer to develop a will that reflects their goals for the future and makes clear the distribution of their estate.

Of course, making a will is only the first step towards developing a comprehensive estate plan. People are advised to regularly review their wills and other estate documents to ensure that they reflect their current family relationships and desires for the future. In addition, people may want to consider other key documents like powers of attorney or trusts.

People who are thinking about the future can help their family by creating an estate plan. An attorney might be able to help clients develop and execute key documents.