Aretha Franklin’s decades-long career as the “Queen of Soul” came to an end when her ailing health left her unable to continue touring. Often lauded as the greatest singer of all time, Franklin was—at the time of her death—an immensely wealthy woman worth an estimated $80 million.
However, while Aretha Franklin may have had immense musical talent, she, like many Americans, made the all-too-common mistake of writing a will but failing to ensure its safety. This oversight tore her family apart, imperiling her estate and turning her children against one another.
The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has spent decades helping California families avert similar catastrophes. If you have questions about protecting your legacy from the perils of probate, our experienced team of attorneys is here to help.
Learning From Aretha Franklin’s Estate Mistakes
Aretha Franklin’s original 2010 will contained controversial inheritance provisions that upset heirs and led to intense litigation. However, in 2018, after years of appeals and challenges, an intensive search of the late singer’s possessions produced a newer will buried deep inside an old sofa.
Franklin, like many other people, made a critical mistake—believing that her will would be safest in a place few would expect to find it. However, she passed away before divulging its location, initiating an intrafamily feud that has dragged on for more than five years.
Keeping Your Will Safe
While keeping your will hidden could preserve your peace of mind, you run the same risks as Aretha Franklin. Instead of putting your faith in a California probate court, consider keeping your will safe by:
Storing it in a Fireproof Safe
If you do decide to keep your original will at home, it deserves better protection than a filing cabinet, desk drawer, or couch cushion. A fireproof or waterproof safe can keep a will shielded from the elements, while making it easy for an executor to locate.
Not Storing it in a Safe Deposit Box
Storing a will in a safe deposit box may seem like a good idea, but it is not without its risks.
Banks, like most financial institutions, will not simply allow third-party access to another person’s safe deposit box. Even if the executor is entitled to access it, they may have a difficult time proving their position if the will is locked away inside the same bank demanding documentation.