The news that soul legend Aretha Franklin died without leaving a will has prompted legal experts to warn of the dire consequences for handling one’s estate that the absence of a will can bring.
Ms Franklin, who died on August 16, left no will for her estimated fortune of around $80 million.
Survived by her four sons, and it’s being reported that her children have filed a report listing themselves as interested parties in her estate.
As the singer’s children reportedly begin proceedings to gain access to her estate, experts have advised that contesting a will and gaining access to property and assets can be difficult to enforce without the correct paperwork in place.
Ben Wilson, associate, contentious trusts and probate solicitor at Forbes Solicitors said: “Failure to leave a will, particularly when there is a substantial estate, as is likely to be the case of Aretha Franklin, can result in substantial sums of money being wasted in disputes between family members, step family members and friends of the deceased, warring over the estate.
“The best way to minimise the chances of a dispute is to leave a will, along with a clear letter of wishes, setting out reasons why the Will has been done in this way.”
The Yorkshire Post ran an event last year with the Solicitors for the Elderly organisation, advising on how crucial a will can be to avoiding heartache for loved ones.
Victoria Motley, a specialist solicitor in wills and probate, said: “Making a will gives certainty and peace of mind for everyone.
“It makes it clear who should be responsible for sorting out your affairs and who you would like to inherit.
“Failing to make a will at best leaves uncertainty, but more often than not leads to arguments. The law does set out who is responsible for sorting things out and who should inherit where someone doesn’t leave a will, but this does not always give the best result.”