Aretha Franklin who died on 16 August has joined a long list of celebrities and prominent people who died without a will, causing enormous trouble for their family and loved ones.

Aretha, whose estate is said to be worth $80 million, had no will when she died. Under Michigan law (like in Australia) it is likely that eventually her estate will flow through to her children as her next of kin. However, the absence of a valid will opens the door to a raft of litigation, and potential claims against her estate. This means the costs and delays will end up being borne by her children.  Even if there are no competing claims on the estate the costs of court action to get the estate through to her children will be considerable.

Another prominent person who died without a will was President Abraham Lincoln – pretty poor work by a former lawyer, but no doubt fighting a civil war was a little distracting, and he wouldn’t have anticipated dying when he did.  It took the US Supreme Court to sort out his estate and pass it, eventually, to his wife and children.

Michael Jackson did have a will, but it was said to be incomplete and confusing, which has resulted in lengthy and expensive disputes between his appointed executors and his family.

Other famous people who died without a will include Pablo Picasso, Howard Hughes, Martin Luther King, Prince, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, John Denver, Amy Winehouse, Sam Cooke and Sonny Bono.  In doing so they ensured that their family and loved ones had to endure long, lengthy and expensive fights about their estates.

The message is simple – do a will (and keep it up to date) so that your family and loved ones can avoid the expense and time consumed in sorting out the mess the absence of a will can cause.

Sunshine Coast Elder Law are experts in drafting valid wills, updating wills, and sorting out any disputes that may arise through the absence of, or a defect in, a will.  Contact them on 1800961622 to discuss any Will, Estate or Elder Law problems.

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