On April 12, 2021, Alex Weingarten was featured on WealthManagement.com’s podcast, Celebrity Estates: Wills of the Rich and Famous, where he discussed the tumultuous estate of R&B singer Aretha Franklin and the need for good communication when developing an estate plan.
According to the podcast, it was believed at the time of her passing that Franklin left no will, therefore leaving her estate to be divided equally among her children. Since then, new developments have surfaced. Four separate wills were found in Franklin’s home, three handwritten and one typed but not signed, leading to a litigious estate battle.
“One of the big lessons of the Aretha Franklin case is that there was no definitive final estate plan. My understanding is that Aretha’s attorneys lamented the fact that they had for years attempted to get her to do an estate plan, but she refused to do so,” Weingarten said. “First and foremost is get an estate plan done, and that’s important not only to avoid litigation. The other significant drain on an estate’s assets aside from litigation expenses is taxes. The goal of any estate plan is to avoid litigation and, more importantly, to achieve tax efficiency.”
“Another thing that I would urge anyone who is coming up with an estate plan to do, particularly where you have what I would call complicated family relations, is be explicit. Be explicit in what it is that you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And to the extent that you can, communicate all of that while you’re still alive,” Weingarten added.
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