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Tax Blog

The Importance of a Proper Will

Every year, people pass away intestate. If you pass intestate that means that you did not have a will created before passing. Every state has different laws regarding what happens to your property if you pass intestate. This can cause a lot of chaos and heartache for families when trying to get through not only grieving but figuring out how you may have best wanted your things divided while also following state laws.

Many notable famous celebrities have passed intestate which caused their families to have to go through years of various proceedings trying to get everything handled. Some of these individuals include Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King JR., Pablo Picasso, Prince, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, and even Amy Winehouse.

Most recently, Aretha Franklin’s sons were just in court battling over her estate. Originally after she passed it was believed that there was no will. A few months later, in 2019, two holographic wills were found; one in a cabinet and one in a couch cushion. A holographic will is a handwritten will that is testator-signed as an alternate to a will produced by a lawyer. Some states though do not recognize holographic wills and if they do permit them, there are generally very specific requirements needed for it to be valid.

The issue in Aretha Franklin’s case was which of the two holographic wills was truly valid; one dated in 2010 or the one dated in 2014. Ultimately, the jury found that the 2014 holographic will that was found in between some couch cushions was valid and is the will that should be followed regarding her estate. This conclusion though came 5 years after she passed, resulting in a lot of heartache, family division, and attorney’s fees.

The best steps of action, if you do not have a will, are to reach out to an attorney and get a better understanding of what the laws within your state require, what happens if you pass intestate, and whether holographic wills are allowed within your state. This way you can be sure that your estate is taken care of once you are gone and that your family has one less thing to worry about. For more information on what may work the best in your estate plan, reach out to the Professionals at The Center for Financial, Legal, & Tax Planning Inc., at (618) 997-3436.


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