2022 Annual Newsletter

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Is a Do-It-Yourself Will a Good Idea?

by | Jul 10, 2023 | Estate Planning

Is a “do-it-yourself” Will a good idea? Probably not! Although Aretha Franklin died over five years ago, her estate is still a mess. After her death the final wishes of this music superstar are still unsettled. Apparently, the Queen of Soul did not have a formal Will or Trust. Despite ongoing health problems, she never got her affairs in order. Thus, here we are five years later and her four sons still do not have matters settled. It appears that over time Ms. Franklin jotted down notes appearing to be her Last Will and Testament, but then she scribbled on these handwritten Wills and crossed sections out. Multiple “handwritten Wills” were located, each with different instructions. Under Michigan law it is still possible to treat other documents with scribbles and scratched out and hard to read passages as a Last Will and Testament. Unfortunately it’s not just the poorly created do it yourself Will that’s creating problems, it is also the dispute that has risen as a result of these Wills that is pitting one son against another.

One would think that with an estate of this size, along with a son who needs a court appointed guardian, that Ms. Franklin would have taken more time and care to get her affairs in order. The cost and time of setting up a trust or even a simple Last Will and Testament would have cost much less than the legal mess she has created with her “do-it-yourself” estate plan.