Don't End Up Like Aretha Franklin! - Makofsky Valente Law Group, P.C.

Two Handwritten “Wills” Result in 4 Years of Litigation

When legendary singer Aretha Franklin died in 2018 at the age of 76, her family believed she had passed without a Will. Under state law, the Queen of Soul’s $18 million estate would be divided evenly between her four sons. But then, in 2019, not one, but TWO handwritten documents were found in her apartment: one, dated 2010, was in a locked cabinet, the other, dated 2014, was found in a spiral notebook between the couch cushions. The two documents divided Ms. Franklin’s assets up differently, causing the brothers to fight about which document should be followed. Neither document was prepared by an attorney or witnessed. According to accounts of the case in The New York Times, the family became combative as the case went through probate.  So, what did Ms. Franklin intend? It took a long, hard, and costly four years in court to figure that out, ending when a jury ultimately determined that the couch document most closely represented the singer’s intent. Would Ms. Franklin have wanted her children to be fighting over her assets? Would she have wanted her estate to have to pay years of legal fees rather than have that money go to her grandchildren? Undoubtedly, the answer to both those questions is no, but because she failed to do proper estate planning with a lawyer this is exactly what ensued.Don’t be like Aretha Franklin. Take charge of your future now, while you can. When you work with an elder law attorney, you are formalizing your future desires so there will be no questions after you are gone. What a beautiful gift to give your family – the gift of knowing your wishes and not having to guess.At Makofsky Valente Law Group, P.C. we can help you with your Will and other estate planning needs. We will ensure that your desires are known and that your final wishes get the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. that Ms. Franklin’s did not. We are only an email or phone call away!

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