Avoid the estate planning mistakes of Aretha Franklin and Prince, advises Richard Eisenberg, writing in Forbes.com. Both these one-time blockbuster music stars died without a will or trust, Eisenberg notes, and, he warns, “Following in their footsteps could mean your loved ones won’t receive the inheritances you intended.” Problems you might cause your heirs include:
- Disbursements could be long-delayed
- Ugly family squabbles might ensue
- Your estate might owe additional taxes
- Your financial life will become a public record
- If you have a special needs child, he or she may wind up losing government benefits
Considering the fact that Aretha Franklin knew she had pancreatic cancer, you would think she’d have considered creating a will. At least one of her attorneys tried to get her to do exactly that, but the singer never followed through, Eisenberg relates.
What’s so all-important about having a will?
Having a will means that you, rather than your state’s laws, decide who gets your property when you die, Lawyers.com explains. Wills can:
- distribute your property
- name an executor
- name guardians for children
- forgive debts
Without a will or other estate plan, state laws known as “intestate succession laws” decide which family members will inherit your estate and in what proportion. Most people want to distribute their property differently than the state would distribute it, Lawyers.com continues. For example, many people want to leave gifts to friends, neighbors, girlfriends, boyfriends, schools, or charitable organizations – and intestate succession does not allow for any of that.
At Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, our attorneys are focused on understanding your particular goals and concerns, taking a lifetime planning approach. That means planning for each client’s’ current needs as well as for a potential disability and death.
Control is really the name of the game and the real reason for having a will. Few people have an estate worth $80 million (the estimated value of Franklin’s estate), but deciding how one’s assets are distributed is still most people’s preference. Keep in mind that settling an estate involves a lot of emotions. The slightest differences can result in hurt feelings and recriminations. A will that clearly lays out your wishes may reduce conflict and speculation over what you “would have” wanted.
– By Rebecca W. Geyer