Most people without a will clearly understand they should have one. They have understood this for years but have done nothing about it. I find that curious.
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin passed away recently after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was a Detroit icon who a had a long and successful career.
Aretha died without a will.
According to Forbes magazine her net worth is estimated to be $80 million. We can imagine she had a team of professional advisers over the decades who would have suggested she complete a will.
Following her death her entertainment lawyer went public saying he had encouraged her to prepare a will. Plus, her death was not without warning. There was plenty of time to consider how she wanted to distribute her estate.
When you die without a will your assets are eventually distributed. But that can be a very messy process.
The more money involved, the greater chance that family members will argue. Many of those arguments often end up in court.
Having family harmony over a lifetime can be challenging during the best of times. Add in a fight about a sizeable estate and things can get ugly very quickly. Musician Ike Turner’s estate is a prime example. It is still in litigation 11 years after his death.
Several years ago, a lawyer told me that estate litigation and family fighting is far more severe than an antagonistic divorce. Estate battles involve money and emotions which are two explosive ingredients for a big fight.
When you die you leave assets that form your estate, and those assets will eventually be distributed. Having an up-to-date will ensures your estate is distributed as you intended.
When you die without a will you still leave those same assets in need of distribution. But without a will you also leave a big mess.