Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin left no will or any estate plan which could open heirs to high estate taxes an create legal squabbles. Her four sons have filed a document listing themselves as interested parties for her estate.
Her niece has requested the court to appoint her as executor of the estate which has been estimated $80 million.
Franklin’s long-time attorney told the Detroit Free Press that he bugged her for years to set up a trust but she never did.
The lack of a trust or will could lead to hassles for her potential heirs. Jeffrey Eisen, a trusts and estates attorney with the law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles has represented potential heirs in a number of contested or disputed estates. Many of those clients are prominent individuals and estates in the entertainment industry, including Muhammad Ali and Farrah Fawcett. He sees trouble ahead. He told Accounting Today:
“It means that the State of Michigan is going to write her will for her because she didn’t have one, It means that she didn’t get to choose who would be in charge of her estate, including being in control of her music catalog. That’s going to be determined by the heirs, assuming they can agree. And it means that everything is going to be played out in public view, including the valuation of her assets, her music catalog — everything. It’s completely and totally public and all avoidable.”