Aretha Franklin – You better think…

11 July 2023
Louise Holmes, Head of Wills & Probate

You better think…

Aretha Franklin’s family feud over her estate proves it is better to plan ahead than to leave a dispute for your loved ones.

Aretha Franklin

The tale of Aretha Franklin’s disputed estate has been heavily covered recently across the media including on the BBC.

Aretha Franklin died in August 2018, apparently leaving no Will for her estate worth millions. However, nine months later, handwritten Wills (with different dates) were found in a cabinet and under a sofa cushion at her home in suburban Detroit, leading to an ongoing battle between her four sons.

While many of us do not have the multitude of millions to leave behind for our loved ones, the situation clearly illustrates the benefits, indeed the need to plan ahead and write and register your Will.

We consider planning ahead and writing your Will essential for the following key reasons:

  1. Distribution of Assets: A Will allows you to specify how your assets, including property, investments, and personal belongings, should be distributed after your death. This ensures that your wishes will be respected, minimising the potential for family disputes, and ensuring that your assets are distributed in line with your intentions.
  2. Guardianship of Minor Children: If you have minor children, a Will allows you to name a guardian who will be responsible for their care in the event of your passing. Without a Will, the court may have to make this decision, which may not align with your wishes.
  3. Minimise Family Conflicts: Clear instructions in a Will can help reduce conflicts among family members and loved ones. When your intentions are clearly outlined, it can help avoid misunderstandings, disagreements, and potential legal battles that could arise without a Will.
  4. Executor Appointment: Writing a Will allows you to appoint an executor, who will be responsible for managing your estate, paying debts, and distributing assets according to your wishes. Choosing a trusted person as an executor ensures that your estate is handled by someone you deem capable and reliable.
  5. Tax Planning and Asset Protection: A well-structured Will can also include provisions for tax planning and asset protection, potentially reducing the tax burden on your estate and ensuring that your assets are safeguarded for your beneficiaries.

It’s important to consult with legal professionals such as ourselves when creating a Will to ensure that it adheres to all specific legal requirements.

How we can help
Our team are all specialists in this area of law and are either qualified members or working towards membership of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners).
If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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