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Aretha Franklin died without a will in place

Many Minnesota residents understand the importance of estate planning. Without having the proper legal documents in place, like a will or trust, a person's estate will go through probate, opening up a can of worms among their family members. Failing to plan for what happens to a person's assets upon their death can lead to many arguments among family members and a person's assets not going where the owner had intended.

With Aretha Franklin's recent death, it has become apparent that the singer did not have a will or trust in place at the time of her death. The famous singer left behind four sons, but was not married. This has set the stage for what may be an epic battle over her estate, estimated to be worth $80 million.

Her estate will probably be split between her four sons, who will be facing large estate taxes. Her estate will also be complicated by the fact that it needs to go through a valuation exercise, which is complicated and assigns an estimated value on the future of the estate from the income on music royalties and image rights. Further complicating matters, one of Ms. Franklin's sons has special needs and with this windfall he may no longer be eligible for social security, Medicaid or any other benefit he is currently receiving. Because there was not a special needs trust set up for him, it can cut him off from government benefits.

When a person dies without a will or trust in place, their estate usually has to go through probate. This process can be complicated. There can also be probate disputes that occur among family members that can be difficult to resolve. A legal professional who specializes in probate disputes can help families during this emotional time. An attorney can work to honor the deceased's wishes and resolve family disputes. An attorney understands the stressful situation this can bring to the family and the long-term impacts that can occur. Working closely with family members can ensure everyone's opinions are heard and valued.

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