Aretha Franklin and the lessons we can learn about making a Will

Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, sadly passed away in August and did so without leaving a Will. This might come as a surprise to many given her superstar status and assets worth an estimated £62.3 million. Without a Will in place, local law is dictating how her estate is being divided, rather than this being her own choice. This is further complicated because one of her sons has special needs that require financial and medical support for the rest of his life. The process of administering her estate could take years to resolve because of this lack of clear division and potential claims to the inheritance, and will likely play out in public.

It is the lack of control Aretha Franklin now has over the division of her own assets, the lack of clear provisions for her loved ones, the lack of guidance on how she may have wanted any sentimental items distributed, and the lack of special considerations – such as appointing a carer for her son – that teaches us all important lessons about Wills.

Older couple in convertible car, woman has her hands in the air

Here are five reasons why you should consider getting a Will now rather than later. 

1. Increased emotional stress for loved ones

Many people in England have not made Wills, but it is their family and friends who have to deal with the legal issues when someone dies without a Will at an already highly emotional time. Additionally, Modern family structures can be complicated and it’s worth remembering that stepchildren (even those who have been treated equally as children of the family day-to-day) do not inherit equally or at all with natural children of the person who has died.

2. A chance to express, and legally protect, your last wishes

A Will allows you to divide your assets as you wish. You can also appoint whom you like as a trusted executor who will carry out your wishes and ensure you have your chosen funeral arrangements. A Will allows you to provide for your family members and loved ones, whether your children, stepchildren, friends or your furry family members. You can also elect to leave a legacy gift to charity, which will have philanthropist and inheritance tax benefits.

3. Without a Will, you won’t get a say

If you die without a Will in England, the Rules of Intestacy will apply. These provisions set out clear amounts of how much your surviving blood relatives (or your spouse or civil partner) can inherit. Unmarried partners get nothing regardless of how long you have been together or even if you have children together! If you were unmarried, you would need to make a formal claim against the estate, which can be costly and significantly reduce the money you could be entitled to. A Will would help avoid such issues.

4. Potential claims to your inheritance and a messy probate process

In some cases, a person’s assets can end up being divided between distant relatives who have had little to no contact with the person who has died. Without legally recording your intentions, this opens your estate up to potential claims and inheritance disputes.

5. Loss of sentimental possessions

Sadly, we often see disputes over personal possessions as they can hold so much sentimental value for people. The cost of sorting out disputes can escalate quickly and diminish the value of your estate. More than the expensive of time and money, it can cause heartache for loved ones who were close to you to have lost the right to any possessions that you shared on a sentimental level.

Making a Will is something we should all do before it’s too late, regardless of whether we are the Queen of Soul. Don’t leave it to chance and speak to one of our friendly Solicitors today about getting a Will that protects your wishes.

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