Experts explain why everyone needs a will

Posted at 10:14 PM, Sep 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-05 23:14:57-04

Fans around the world mourned the death of Aretha Franklin on Friday during her funeral in Detroit.

But here’s something surprising about the “Queen of Soul,” she died without leaving a will.

According to Forbes magazine, 64 percent of people don’t have a will.

Some said, they just haven’t gotten around to it, while others said they just don’t feel it’s urgent.

But experts said a will is absolutely necessary for almost all of us.

Vanessa Lopez of McGregor plans to stay healthy to stay around a long time.  A will might be the last thing on her mind, but she’s already considering it.

"I don’t want to make tension or bring any tension between my family because you know, family comes first," Lopez said.

People who die without a will can leave a real mess for their families to sort out, including what happened with Aretha Franklin, and earlier with Prince.

They both died without a will, leaving family members to fight over their money and property. The state had to oversee its division.

Why do you need a will now and not later?  Well, as one person said today, we’re never guaranteed another day on earth, and you never know, when you’re going to wind up in a cemetery.

And in so-called community property states like Texas, dividing up property without a will can get very murky.

Attorneys said a will doesn’t cost much, they don’t take long to draw up, and they clear up who-gets-what because the law doesn’t always divide up our property the way we’d think.

Attorney James Rainey said wills are a necessity for the wealthy, and good business sense for the rest of us.

“Even if it’s just a house, a car and a small bank account, you decide in your will, who gets it,” Rainey said.

He said drawing up a will may perhaps be the best experience you’ll ever have with a lawyer.

“The lawyer is sitting there with you, going over what you have, explaining your rights, and you work together to make something happen when you die. That’s good for your family, so it is a good experience with a lawyer and not a bad one,” Rainey said.

That has Vanessa Lopez thinking more about estate planning even though she’s just starting out.

“Even though I’m 21-years-old, and it’s still too soon, you never know,” Lopez said.

So, what happens to Aretha Franklin’s fortune? Michigan law will divide her estate equally among her four children. She has a special needs son, that might have benefitted from a bigger share, a share Franklin might have decided in advance.

Several celebrities have died without a will, including Prince. Singers Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, the artist Pablo Picasso, and billionaire Howard Hughes, among others, all died with no will.

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