As fans and celebrities flock to the metro Detroit area this week to honor Aretha Franklin, one of the most iconic voices in music history and a nationally loved artist, we urge you to learn more than ‘respect’ from her legacy. The Queen of Soul, left behind four sons, but no will for her estimated $80 million in assets when she died from pancreatic cancer earlier this month.
Let’s face it, end-of-life planning isn’t fun. According to Caring.com, nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults don’t have a will or plan in place. Accepting your mortality can seem depressing and a little scary but it’s a critical part of managing your assets and protecting your family. The news that Aretha Franklin died without a will should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who hasn’t updated their beneficiaries in a while or who doesn’t have an estate plan.
Everyone should have a will, it’s never too early to make one and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Naming beneficiaries, having a will or at least a basic estate plan will allow you some kind of control over what’s going on. Even if you don’t care about your own wishes, you might care that your survivors aren’t saddled with a lot of headaches. If you die without a will — called “dying intestate” — the courts in your state will determine where your assets go no matter how massive or meager. Putting a plan in place for those assets helps ensure that upon your death, your wishes are carried out and that family squabbles don’t evolve into destroyed relationships.
And did you know? Your financial accounts don’t have to be in a will or trust to get passed to your loved ones. Your assets can be passed to your family, though not to minors, by filling out a beneficiary designation form. We review these forms with our own clients at a minimum of once per year at no cost.
It’s amazing the amount of people who come into our office and have prior spouses or deceased relatives named as beneficiaries on a retirement account at a former employer or on a life insurance policy purchased a long time ago. It’s so important that after marriages, divorces, births, deaths and any other major life events, to check and, if necessary, update beneficiary statements. In addition, estate plans should be reviewed at a minimum of every 5 years and everyone should have a will and power of attorney.
Michael Foguth recently discussed this topic on WOMC, here is the segment in case you missed it:
It’s key that everyone plans for end of life because if you don’t plan for it, someone else will dictate how your assets are distributed. Even though you don’t want to think about death, it remains important to find a good, experienced attorney (Did you know? We have a great local attorney available to our clients. Call our office today to learn more.) and start the estate planning process. It’s also important to check with your financial advisor and consistently make sure your beneficiaries are updated and accurate.