PB Law Blog... Trusts and Stuff

Friday, August 31, 2018

Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes - UPDATE: Aretha Franklin Did Not Have a Will!

Large and complex estates are not always adequately planned for.  The most recent example of this is the unfortunate passing of famous vocalist, Aretha Franklin.  At 76, the singer’s illustrious career is left, vulnerable to the effects of probate, because no will or trust document was left to allocate her assets (link).  Unfortunately, her heirs (along any interested parties) will have to petition the Court before any of her estate gets distributed.  This can be an arduous process, depending on various factors, and could result in asset distribution that is contrary to the decedent’s wishes. 

This estate planning blunder is another reminder to plan for your estate ahead of time!   Here are some simplified estate planning refreshers, if done, will reduce the likelihood of the probate of your estate:

  • Establish a trust.

    An established trust provides a layer of security that protects your assets while providing a legal document containing your desires for your assets.   A Revocable Living Trust will usually contain a pour-over will that acts s a safety net in case of failure to properly fund the trust.  Establishing this type of trust can be relatively simple (depending on the complexity of the estate).

  • Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney and Ask Questions!

    Even if you already have a trust, meeting with your attorney on an annual basis keeps you in the know about current laws that may affect your estate. 

  • Reassess your Situation.

    If your situation has changed since the creation of your estate, it is imperative that you glance through your documents and flag any items that may need to be changed within the document itself.  This is vital!  An estate plan that is not updated/funded properly may be exposed to probate!

  • Make a List

Set financial goals and organize your finances in a way that makes it easier for you to communicate your desires. This is a major step in protecting your assets.


Nobody’s death should be overshadowed by the lack of their asset protection.  Protect your legacy and plan for your estate today


-by Laura Bown, J.D. with Tiffany Ballenger Floyd, Esq. (Nevada & California Estate Planning Attorney), © 2018, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC

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