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Offered by: Michael A. Dolan – Dolan & Associates, P.C.

By now, most people have heard that Aretha Franklin, reportedly died without a trust or will. Although there is no argument about her talent, she did make a critical estate planning mistake that you will want to avoid. By all accounts, Aretha’s estate was worth $80 million. Franklin was divorced and had four grown children, one of whom has special needs. Three handwritten documents have now surfaced with parties claiming they are her last will. This definitely complicates matters. Mirroring the mistakes Aretha made regarding her estate, could mean your family and other loved ones may not receive the inheritance you intended or the way you intended, not to mention paying more in expenses and taxes. Intentions are only good if they are implemented.

Aretha’s assets are going through probate, a public proceeding. Creditors must be notified and the state statute followed regarding paying creditors, establishing who the heirs are, and waiting to make distributions until after the statutory requirements have been met. This can be a very lengthy process, even if everyone gets along well. Some people believe everyone must go through probate. The answer is absolutely not, but you have to design an estate plan in order to avoid probate.

You may not have anywhere close to Franklin’s reported $80 million estate. Most of us don’t. The actual dollar amount is not the point. The real point is making sure your loved ones receive what you have in the personal and loving way in which you planned for them to receive it, all while avoiding the expense and public exposure of probate.

If you would like to learn more about available estate planning options, please visit: to sign up for a complimentary edtucational workshop.

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