Probate Issues for the Queen of Soul


In the wake of Aretha Franklin’s death, the Queen of Soul’s estate has been dealing with issues that reveal the importance of having a strong estate plan. In particular, Franklin’s death shows how important it is to have all of your estate planning affairs in order, such as a Will and living trust. If you own property or have a significant amount of money saved, you should seriously consider speaking to an attorney about what you need to include in your estate plan to avoid going through the probate process.

To determine what you need to avoid probate, you will first need to figure out the entire value of your estate. To do this, you need to calculate the value of the following things:

  • All of your real & personal property
  • Any life insurance or retirement benefits that will be paid to your estate

You don’t have to include the following things:

  • Real property owned outside the state
  • Property held in trust
  • Property that has passed directly to a surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • Bank accounts that are owned by multiple persons

Unfortunately for Aretha Franklin, a person who was intensely private, all of her finances will become public knowledge when her estate goes through probate. This is because Franklin did not leave behind a will or trust.

Franklin’s four sons have filed documents that list them as interested parties in her estate. One of the documents filed by her son, Kecalf Franklin, checked a box that acknowledged the absence of a will.

Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, also asked for the court to appoint her as personal representative of the estate.

According to Don Wilson, an attorney who handled Franklin’s entertainment matters for the past 28 years, she was “after [Franklin} for a number of years to do a trust.” Wilson said, “It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate, and kept things private.”

Because Franklin did not create a will before she died, a court battle might ensue between creditors and extended family members who are seeking a portion of her estate.

Speaking about the possibility of a legal battle, Wilson said, “I just hope (Franklin’s estate) doesn’t end up getting so hotly contested. Any time they don’t leave a trust or will, there always ends up being a fight.”

Speak to a Probate Attorney Today

Do you need help with your estate planning? If so, call our legal team in Irving to discuss how to avoid probate. We can assess your situation and create a legal strategy that will protect your rights and interests.

Call (972) 330-4050 to get started on your free 30-minute consultation with our probate lawyer in Irving.

Share To: