I was not especially surprised to learn that Aretha Franklin died without a will. It's becoming a common occurrence and I sort of expected the Queen of Soul to live forever .I bet she did too. I knew that Aretha was divorced and had four sons, all adults – so the division of her assets seemed straightforward to me. But then I read that one of her sons might have special needs and that Ms. Franklin had a long-term companion whom she apparently made no provision for.
I hate to say it but this is irresponsible. An artist like Aretha Franklin, with a sizable estate and a royalty income stream that will carry on for years should have had an estate plan – at the very least a simple will and a special needs trust if one was warranted. As the New York Timesnoted , she could have set up a revocable trust, avoided the probate process and accomplished an ideal distribution of her property. I have been reading a great deal about the Prince estate – he also died without a will – and it seems like his income is going to lawyers and the IRS instead of his heirs (perhaps not having a surviving spouse or a living child he didn't care – who knows?).
I am constantly preaching the need for estate planning and this is especially true for artists, songwriters, princes and queens. Don’t put this stuff off.