Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul who died last month at the age of 76, had no Will in place when she died.
The estate is believed to be in the region of $80m, and is to be split equally between her four sons as per Michigan intestacy laws.
What happens in the UK when a person dies intestate (ie without leaving a Will) ?
- The courts will appoint administrators, who take responsibility for the deceased’s assets, paying all debts, and eventually distributing the estate.
- The surviving spouse may not automatically inherit everything from the deceased.
- If the deceased and their partner were not married, then the surviving partner has no absolute right to inherit any assets, though they might be able to make a claim for limited maintenance funds.
- If there are minor children in the family with no surviving guardians then they will become wards of social services while their guardianship is settled – the final decision may not match with their parents’ wishes.
- The deceased’s estate will be divided amongst the closest blood relatives first, and to increasingly further relatives if no closer family members are living. These intestacy rules do not allow the deceased to increase the benefit to any one individual, or to exclude a particular person (e.g. an estranged child) if they have not written a Will.
On the face of it, the distribution of Aretha Franklin’s estate might seem fair. However, what might happen to people who have an estranged child or children. How would the other children feel, knowing that an unsupportive or distant sibling might inherit equally with themselves? The intestacy rules do not suit everyone.
A Will, on the other hand, should be a bespoke document, tailor-made to take a client’s personal and financial circumstances – as well as their wishes – into account.
The moral of the story is to ensure you have a suitable Will written by a Solicitor or Will-Writer. If you would like us to provide you with suitable contact details or more information, please click here: contact us >>