The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, sadly passed away at her home in Detroit on Thursday the 16th of August at age 76. She had suffered from an on-going battle with advanced pancreatic cancer and according to reports, left no Will at the time of her death.
During her 76 years, Aretha Franklin earned 18 Grammy Awards, sold more than 75 million records worldwide and was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, making her an unforgettable icon for the music industry.
The iconic singer’s estate is said to be worth around $80 million (£62 million) and because no Will has yet been found, her estate may be deemed intestate. According to Michigan state law and the rules of intestacy, the assets of an unmarried person who dies without a Will are divided equally among their surviving children. Aretha is twice divorced and did not remarry, meaning that her multimillion pound estate would be split evenly between her four sons; Clarence Franklin, 63, Edward Franklin, 61, Ted White Jr, 54, and Kecalf Cunningham, 48.
Aretha’s decision to not create a Will before she died could result in a number of problems when administering her estate that may cause further stress to her loved ones. Dying intestate could mean leaving behind an incomplete family tree where missing beneficiaries may need to be located. Even if a family tree is presented as complete, solicitors should always ask themselves whether the information can be completely trusted given that it is likely to have been provided by the family who are appointing them. It is quite common for genuine mistakes to be made because the family were unaware of all of the information. When dealing with intestacy, it is vital to ensure that all entitled people are included as well as making sure that unentitled people are excluded when distributing the assets.
Regardless of wealth, age or health, it is crucial that people understand the importance of planning ahead. The rules of intestacy will divide your estate in a pre-determined way and, regardless of your relations, it could result in a lengthy legal battle involving extended family members. Keeping a Will is the only way to ensure you retain control of your decisions and your estate is distributed in a way that reflects your wishes and protects your family.
If you’ve been presented with an intestate estate, we highly recommend that you get the family tree professionally verified or appoint an experienced genealogist to reconstruct the family tree if you’re presented with one that is incomplete. This will ensure that the estate is correctly distributed and mitigate any risk to the Personal Representative. Title Research reconstructs and verifies hundreds of family trees every year. In many cases, legal professionals approach us with partially constructed family relationships that need to be validated or completed where information is missing. If you need any advice on mitigating risk on intestacy, reconstructing a family tree or verifying an already complete family tree, call our client services team on 0345 87 27 600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.