Did you know, one of the greatest singers in the world, Aretha Franklin did not leave a will after her passing? Both Prince and Aretha Franklin may have thought they had their affairs in order in the event of death considering that they probably had the best advisers. However, it seems that both music legends did not prepare fully for every eventuality.

Aretha Franklin died on Thursday 16th August in Detroit at her home at the age of 76. The reported cause of her death was pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. Without a written will, her four sons had to file a document with the Oakland County Probate Court in Michigan to lists themselves as interested parties in Aretha Franklin’s estate.

What are the repercussions when you die without a will? When you die without a will (“dying intestate”) it will be up to the courts to determine the distribution of your assets. More importantly, if you don’t have a will in place for your children (if they are minors), in the event that they are left parentless, the judge will decide the children’s new legal guardian.
Did you know, it has been reported that nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults don’t have a will? Aretha Franklin isn’t the first celebrity to die without a will either. One if the most important parts of creating your will is to specifically assign people to important roles, such as the executor of your will, and powers of attorney for both healthcare and your financial affairs in case you become incapacitated while still living.

Many people think that estate planning only applies to wealthy individuals; however, that is not always the case. Your estate includes assets which you own such as, possessions, financial accounts, and real estate. By putting a plan in place for those assets helps you safeguard your wishes are carried out upon your death and in doing so, it will make things easier for your loved ones during this difficult time.

Below are some essentials key actions to take when considering your will:

1. Make a will!

You may think that you don’t require a will because you don’t have many assets, however, this may not be the case. Without a will and upon your death, the state will ultimately decide how your assets are divided, no matter how many you have. Furthermore, if minor children are left parentless it is the decision of the judge as to who is their new legal guardians, this is unfair to the children to go through the confusion and legal process.

2.Select an executor

An executor of an estate can be a big job, the person who you select may have important decisions to make so make sure you choose wisely. Tasks such as, ensuring the correct distribution of your assets, paying any of your debts, liquidating accounts, selling the property, can all be tasks that an executor would execute.

3. Check account beneficiaries

A rather common mistake is the notion that people think that they can name who gets money from their life insurance or retirement accounts in their will. However, this is not the case, whoever is listed as the beneficiary on those accounts will receive the money. It is a good idea to check this when making your will or if any life events take place where you would need to change the beneficiaries.

4. Advance healthcare directive

By creating an advance health care directive, it acts as a living will in the event that your health deteriorates or you become incapacitated. For example, if you are on life support or unable to communicate, you can have your wishes specified in a legal document to save a loved one having to make the decision of your treatment.

5. Assign powers of attorney

By assigning powers of attorney, this allows the assigned people control of your financial and medical affairs while you are still alive in case you become incapacitated. Most commonly these are two different people, one for finances, one for medical. These roles hold significant power, it is important to make the right decision when deciding who will handle your affairs.

6. List critical documents

While it is important to leave a will, it is also important to leave a list of the documents which will be important to the executor of your will such as deeds for property, bank account information, and social security information. By putting all this information together, it saves the stress of your family having to search for it. However, it is important to sill hide it, tell the executor of your will where to find it, and don’t make any copies.

7. Follow up

It is vitally important to follow up with your will every few years, when life events happen, make sure your will reflects that. If you acquire or dispose of new assets, if people pass away, or someone moves away, make sure your will adapts to these changes.

If you are searching for answers to your financial planning needs, contact us at Global Investment Strategies at 520-360-8177.