A Properly Executed Will: Lessons from Aretha Franklin’s Estate Battle

properly executed will

Aretha Franklin’s estate battle teaches us lessons about a properly executed will. The recent jury verdict in the case of Aretha Franklin’s estate has shed light on the significance of having a properly executed will and the consequences of failing to do so. The legal issue surrounding her handwritten documents found in her couch after her death is a valuable lesson about the importance of a properly executed will.

Aretha Franklin, a global music star known for her iconic hits, passed away in 2018 at 76 without leaving behind a formal, typewritten will. This absence of a clear estate plan led to a legal battle among her children over the distribution of her assets. The discovery of handwritten documents from 2014, found in her couch cushions, challenged a previously discovered 2010 will, which was locked away in a cabinet. The legal proceedings that followed resulted in considerable financial costs, strained family relationships, and emotional turmoil.

A properly executed will serves as a roadmap for the distribution of assets, ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are honored. In Aretha Franklin’s case, the absence of such a will led to confusion and uncertainty. The subsequent litigation caused delays in the distribution of assets and resulted in significant legal fees for all parties involved. Had Aretha Franklin executed a properly drafted will, her children would have been spared from the financial burden and emotional toll of a prolonged court battle.

Beyond the financial implications, a properly executed will can help preserve family harmony. In the Franklin estate case, the absence of a definitive will caused a rift among the siblings. Disputes over the validity and interpretation of the 2010 and 2014 documents strained relationships and created divisions within the family. This is a reminder of the importance of a properly executed will in avoiding conflicts and maintaining familial bonds, especially during a challenging time.

How to ensure a properly executed will

To ensure the effectiveness of a will, it is crucial to destroy any prior wills once a new will has been properly executed. Aretha Franklin’s case highlights the significance of this step. Despite discovering the 2010 will in a locked cabinet, the subsequent finding of the 2014 handwritten documents created confusion and fueled the legal battle. Destroying prior wills after executing a new will is essential to avoid contradictory provisions and ensure that the most recent intentions of the deceased are accurately represented.

The legal battle over Aretha Franklin’s estate is a powerful reminder of the importance of having a properly executed will. A well-drafted will not only provides clarity and guidance for the distribution of assets but also helps preserve family relationships and save significant time and money. Destroying prior wills after executing a new will further ensure that the deceased’s intentions are accurately represented. The lesson here shows that a properly executed will is a crucial element of comprehensive estate planning, and neglecting it can lead to undesirable consequences for your loved ones.

To learn more about our wills, trusts and estate planning services or to schedule a consultation with a member of the Ward, Shindle & Hall team, please contact our New Jersey law firm at (856) 853-7771.