The howling of wolves broke the silence of the night. Los Angeles Attorney Don Wilson abruptly woke from his deep sleep, sweating with fright.
“If only she had taken my advice and established a trust, as I had advised her to do for years,” sobbed Wilson, who had represented Aretha Franklin for 28 years. “Matters could have remained private and out of probate.”
It was true. The late, great Aretha Franklin did not THINK to leave a will. Therefore, it would be impossible to RESPECT her wishes.
Any time there’s no will, the wolves will circle. Shirt-tail relatives and long-lost friends will surely appear before Judge Jennifer Callaghan at the Oakland County Probate Court looking for payout. It could be only the beginning of this horror story!
The estate could even be subject to federal estate tax. Another howl was heard. While the tax law changes signed by President Donald Trump in December doubled the standard deduction for estates from $5.6 million to $11.2 million, everything beyond that is taxed at a frightening 40%. The only “silver bullet” exception would have been money or other assets left to charities or a surviving spouse, which would not be taxed.
Many wealthy people also pass on money to their heirs through life insurance, because the payouts usually are not taxed. But even those transactions must be carefully structured. Worse yet, when there is no will, the state decides under the intestate laws of the individual states. So, even if you’re married, and you want your surviving spouse to get 100% of your assets, you’d better have a will because otherwise, that’s not how the intestate laws work,
One mystery remains: how much of her estate will actually transfer to her four sons or the causes most near to her heart? Regardless, it will not be the way the Queen of Soul would have truly wanted it…
If you are terrified by the prospect of not having a will, click here to download our free Will Planning Guide. Talk to us about the tools of philanthropy and talk to your Moravian attorney about a will.