If Sun City residents have heard of the estate-planning debacle surrounding the estate of famed singer Aretha Franklin, then you know just how dangerous it can be to forego estate planning altogether. Yet, even mediocre estate planning can prove problematic. It can threaten to tie an estate up in probate for a long time, draining the estate of resources, wasting loved ones’ time, and causing familial strife.
Again, it appears that Aretha Franklin’s estate serves as a reminder of why half-hearted estate planning is dangerous. Recent reports have indicated that Franklin had multiple handwritten wills stashed in her home. Two of the wills date to 2010, and one dates to 2014. Of Franklin’s four sons, two plan to contest the legal validity of the documents, which means they likely contain terms that are counter to their interests. The matter is expected to be addressed through contentious court hearings.
Handwritten wills can present a whole host of problems. They often aren’t witnessed, which can automatically deem them legally invalid. Also, with multiple wills it’s hard to determine if newer ones are meant to modify or fully replace older ones. These issues and others can lead to legal conflict.
One way to avoid these legal matters is to engage in thorough and holistic estate planning up front. An attorney often proves beneficial in this process by crafting detailed legal documents that contain clear, unambiguous terms that suit an individual’s needs. To acquire this assistance and protect their estate as fully as possible, individuals should consider sitting down with a legal professional they trust.