David Howard Goldberg, P.L.

Celebs who leave no wills: Aretha Franklin the latest

The rich and famous may accumulate their fortunes using their looks, talent or position in society. However, when it comes to end-of-life decisions, some celebrities seem to be just like many normal folk who put off making plans. Once again, fans and estate-planning advisors were left scratching their heads as music icon Aretha Franklin passed away with no will or trust. While most in Florida may want to know what will happen to her possessions, advisors want her fans to know that while wills are crucial, an estate plan can do more than distribute assets.

The death of a loved one can be an emotional and confusing time. When family members have no documentation of the deceased's wishes, confusion can quickly turn to chaos and contention. Creating an estate plan not only helps minimize the confusion, but it can be an expression of compassion and love when carefully prepared and up-to-date documents relieve the stress family members may otherwise experience. One only has to look at the drawn out and very public probate disputes some celebrities' families undertake when no will is left behind.

Someone like Aretha Franklin may have benefited from her own estate plan by including advance health care directives and appointing a health care proxy, especially after receiving a terminal diagnosis. A durable power of attorney is important for someone who has concerns about incapacitation that would restrict his or her ability to manage finances, keep up with investments and pay bills. Maintaining privacy during probate is possible by using trusts, for which there are numerous options.

When celebrities die without wills, it may inspire fans to take steps to begin estate planning. Not everyone may need a plan as elaborate as the rich and famous, but everyone can benefit from the protections and control estate planning provides. Florida residents who are ready to find the answers to their estate planning questions can seek advice from an experienced attorney.

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