When Aretha Franklin died on 16 August, the world mourned the loss of one of the music industry’s great talents.
Now, headlines are turning to the fact that the ‘Queen of Soul’, who had an estate estimated to be worth $80 million, did not leave a will or trust detailing the distribution of her fortune.
Michigan law dictates that, in such an event, an individual’s fortune is to be shared equally among their children – in Aretha’s case, her four sons.
In the UK, when a person dies without leaving a valid will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to strict inheritance laws, often referred to as the Rules of Intestacy, which apply in England and Wales. These rules can be harsh as they often don’t allow for modern family relationships.
The only way to make it absolutely clear who should inherit your property and possessions after you pass away, is to put in place a legally valid Will which meets the requirements of UK law.
It is also important to start planning as early as possible how you mean to pass on your wealth to your family and or other beneficiaries. If you do not do this, beneficiaries could be met with large inheritance tax (IHT) bills which could have disastrous consequences for them and lead to a very substantial part of your estate being paid to the Revenue.
Worst of all, IHT could create financial problems and anxiety for your beneficiaries at what is undoubtedly already a very difficult time.
With specialist advice, forethought and sensible tax planning IHT can be mitigated. Our Beavis Morgan tax experts are available to guide you and advise on the available strategies.