Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin died earlier this month leaving an $80million estate – but no will.
Her case should be a warning to all of us who haven’t yet made provision for what should happen to our savings and possessions, says FBC Manby Bowdler associate Michelle Monnes-Thomas.
The number of people who don’t have a will in this country is at an all time high, according to new figures.
More than 31 million of us risk dying intestate and having our savings and possessions distributed solely in accordance with the law, rather than our own wishes. That’s almost every other adult in the country.
Soul legend Aretha Franklin, who died aged 76 of pancreatic cancer earlier this month, had made no provision for how her huge personal fortune should be shared out.
Under Michigan state law it will be split between her four children. But if the singer had wanted other people or charities to benefit from her wealth, that will not now happen. Her eldest son has complex needs which require special support and it may well have been that his mother would have wanted to make extra provision for him. Again, without a will, this cannot happen.
In England and Wales, the laws governing intestacy set out a rigid order governing who should benefit when a will has not been made. And there are a number of exclusions – such as unmarried partners and stepchildren – which means in these days of blended and complex families your nearest and dearest might never receive a penny from your estate.
That means you could work and save hard for your whole life only for what you leave to be distributed to people you might not necessarily have chosen yourselves.
Aretha Franklin’s case is a warning to us all. If you don’t have a will now is the time to put your affairs in order. By consulting a reputable solicitor, you can ensure that every detail is taken care of exactly as you would like.
That means you get peace of mind knowing you have done right by the people and organisations you care most about and also helped prevent the possibility of disputes over your legacy in the future.