Most Illinois residents may already be aware that in August, the world lost a music legend when the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, died at the age of 76. Even though other celebrities recently died without an estate plan, it is still surprising that Franklin died without even a will. That means that her approximately $80 million estate will need to go through probate as an intestate estate, which in this case, will probably be time-consuming and certainly expensive.
Because she died without a will, Franklin’s estate will be distributed in accordance with the laws of intestacy, which means that the state intestacy statute determines who inherits her estate. It also means that since she made no efforts to reduce her taxable estate, much of her estate could end up being paid to taxing authorities. She also denied herself the right to choose where her hard-earned money and assets end up.
Only time will tell how this situation plays out. For Illinois residents, this may be a stark reminder to put together an estate plan. One report indicates that as many as 58 percent of the adults in the United States have no estate plan in place.
Most people do not have $80 million in their estate, but that does not diminish the need for an estate plan. Not only could having a plan in place save an estate money, but it also helps surviving family members. It provides instructions for them to follow in order to carry out the wishes of a deceased loved one. It also gives the person creating the plan the opportunity to choose how the probate process will go and who will receive what assets, along with when and how they are distributed in some cases.