Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” sold over 75 million records sold globally, but failed to properly handle the affairs of her estate prior to her death. After lengthy illness, Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018 and her family is still arguing over her estate almost five years later. The issue: which of the two handwritten wills that were found will ultimately determine the distribution of the estate.
Two handwritten wills were discovered in Franklin's Detroit home-one stuffed between couch cushions! Reports indicate that the wills were rife with scribbles, scratch-outs and hard-to-read passages. Michigan law will allow a handwritten or “holographic” wills to be utilized in the probate of her estate; however, which one will rule? There is obviously a huge amount of money at stake and the scenario has pitted her four sons in a battle amongst themselves.
Texas also allows of the admission of these handwritten wills. The requirements are quite simple:
1. The will must be in writing;
2. Written entirely in the Testator's hand;
3. Signed by the Testator;
4. Have testamentary disposition (state “who” gets “what”); and
5. Must have testamentary nature (intent to make gift(s) at death the are irrevocable after death).
In short, this option is truly the “last resort” for someone. My staunch advise is simply, “PLEASE do not do this!” The pitfalls are unlimited. The only time that I can ever recommend doing this is a true “last resort” situation…like imminent death.
Whether or not you are a worldwide celebrity as an adult you truly have a duty to handle your testamentary affairs prior to your death. Reach out to me and let's complete a thorough and thought out estate plan-it will bring so much peace of mind and certainty.