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11-2019 | Are Celebrities Really Different When It Comes To Families Fighting Over Estates?

Are Celebrities Really Different When It Comes To Families Fighting Over Estates?

Famous icon, Aretha Franklin, recently passed away, and now her sons are fighting over control of her estate. Their family tensions are spilling over into the news. Her sons are contesting the validity of her will. One son argues that an old will is valid; and another son says that there is a 2014 handwritten will that was found under cushions in Aretha’s Detroit home. This is likely the last thing that Aretha wanted to happen to her family. Estate planning isn’t different just because someone is a wealthy celebrity.

The amount of wealth may be different; but the problems of children, and other family members, contesting wills are quite common.  Emotions amongst siblings can run high no matter how much money is left in an estate.

We don’t need to be rich and famous to relate to these problems, or to prevent them.  Estate planning is important for everyone, at any age and stage of life. The key is that you want to make sure that your wishes are respected.

Sadly, Aretha Franklin’s sons may now end up estranged, angry and suffering. On top of it, Aretha’s assets are going to be depleted due to expensive and protracted legal proceedings.

Fortunately, you can take simple steps to avoid what’s happening with Aretha’s family.

  • Consider writing out notes about your final wishes. For example, decide who you want to take care of you when you are older, who should oversee your estate, and who you want to be your beneficiaries.
  • Make sure to compile a detailed list of your assets, accounts numbers, important contact information, passwords etc.
  • Once you have a good idea of your wishes, and your overall assets, it is important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to prepare your estate planning documents.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to estate planning.

.Matthew V. Piwowar is a Grand Rapids estate planning attorney.  Mr. Piwowar is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, and the State Bar Probate & Estate Planning Section, the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, and the Michigan Forum of Estate Planners.

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