Newman Law Group

Multiple wills can complicate asset distribution

People in California who die without an estate plan in place may not have their final wishes carried out as they intended. Aretha Franklin passed away almost a year ago from complications related to pancreatic cancer. At the time of her death in Detroit, it was believed that she had died without leaving a will. That situation would have made asset distribution of her Michigan estate, estimated at over $80 million, very difficult.

Three wills that were purportedly written by the singer were recently found in her home. The wills, known as holographic wills, were found by a representative of the estate. Aretha Franklin had four sons and they have not been able to agree on the validity of the wills. Two of the documents are dated 2010 and the third 2014.

Since the family is contesting the validity of the documents the case will move to the courts. Part of the court's job will be to determine if the wills are admissible for probate. The estate representative who found the wills is remaining neutral on the matter and hopes the situation can be resolved peacefully in a way that honors the singer and her estate.

While most people do not have estates as sizable as someone like Aretha Franklin, one may have final wishes regarding the asset distribution of one's property and belongings following one's death. As difficult as it can be to contemplate one's own mortality, failure to do so can be a hardship on the family left behind. Anyone in California who is contemplating creating an estate plan could benefit from a conversation with an estate planning attorney.

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