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Even the rich and famous sometimes overlook wills, other tools

With the recent passing of singer Aretha Franklin, the nation mourns the loss of an American musical icon. While Franklin certainly was skilled at dominating any stage she found herself upon, she didn't have the same level of ambition when it came to estate planning. Like so many other high-profile Americans in Georgia and elsewhere, Franklin departed without wills or trusts to guide the disposition of her extensive estate. 

Her loved ones are left to try and figure out what the singer would want in regard to distributing her assets. They'll also lose a considerable portion of that wealth to taxation. Absent any protective measures, the government can end up with as much as 40 percent of Franklin's estate, which surpasses $11.18 million. 

Estate litigation is also a possibility if there are disputes between family members about inheritance issues. That can further decrease the base of assets, as a portion of the wealth will go to legal fees. Very often, family members end up depleting their inheritance considerably in lengthy court battles. 

There's also the issue of probate and the fact that -- absent wills or other guiding documents -- Franklin's estate will go through the probate process. That means her financial information will be made public, something the late singer may not have wanted. An attorney for Franklin told reporters that he had tried for years to get her to create an estate plan but that she had never followed up on that advice. For Georgia residents, her example could be enough to prompt a call to a skilled estate planning attorney. 

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At Hodges Law Firm, we handle a wide range of legal issues for clients throughout the Atlanta area, including elder law, estate planning, probate, Medicaid planning and protection, asset protection, litigation, and business law and services. We are knowledgeable in the law and understand the real life implications of legal actions.