Aretha did not have a Will + but you should
Still in shock. Aretha's passing shook me to the core as it was a death we all knew would come but to see it unfold in the media before our eyes as her illness took over her human form truly left me speechless. A GRAND DIVA she was; her musical prowess truly is unmatched. I am a 80's baby, so remembering her with George Michael's I KNEW YOU WERE WAITING FOR ME was one my of favorites from that era.
As I became an adult, I remember reading somewhere that Aretha was a smart business woman who demanded to be paid in cash. What was so remarkable to me was that in a world mostly ran by men, the music industry is very unforgiving, you'd be lucky if you received 1/2 your payment before the end of your engagement, much less the FULL payment and in cash? Ms. Franklin was a boss, making boss money moves when most could not. But to learn that at the end of her death even while knowing she was passing, Ms. Franklin, did not take the necessary steps to secure the distribution of her estate. We're talking millions of dollars left in the air for some Probate magistrate to decide? Craziness for real. Aretha Franklin had no will.
My mind has been blown by her now two times in the span of 7 days. After losing my husband in 2016, I had to learn a very critical lesson in adulting, you must have your financial house in order. When faced with having to put his affairs to rest the predominate question that continuously arose from his creditors were, is there a will or what is the status of his trust? I had no idea what they were talking about. For one, I was in so much grief I didn't remember how to do a simple task like paying the light bill, much less soundly giving direction on how to administer his will/trust if there was one. Was there one? Shambles, this is not the time to ask those kinds of questions.
We, and I mean, people of color, BLACK PEOPLE, must get used to talking about death. We don't talk about it and in fact we are not prepared for when it comes. Death is apart of the natural course of life and if you are not prepared you will have additional pressures not needed in you or your family's time of grief.
Creating a Will is simple, even if you feel you do not have a lot to leave behind. It can be as simple as a form document you write in sound body and mind, witnessed by someone and notarized or contact an estate attorney who can walk you through the intricate process if you have more assets to divide. You need a Will to provide direction in terms of how you want the quality of your life to be if you have no way of communicating that direction while in failed or poor health. A Will can give you peace of mind knowing that you have taken every step to secure your loved ones future. A Will can also prevent the need to go to Probate court which can be a long process of figuring out asset ownership post-mortem; trust me you don't want that. A Will is a living entity that can be changed as needed when life circumstances change but is there to hold you and your family's future together.
For myself, I created a trust and because I was married to my husband, you, the widower will have certain rights that are already on the books that no one can usurp but it is better to have a Will in place so that all the important details come from YOU!
What I recommend: Suze Orman's Must Have Documents : everything you need to create a Will or Living Trust at your fingertips for a fraction of the cost to see an estate attorney in your area. Or simply contact an estate attorney and get started. This is important.
Don't be unprepared to die, it's no fun!