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Aretha Franklin's E-S-T-A-T-E

A jury in Michigan decided that Aretha Franklin's handwritten notes found in her couch constituted her will.  Don't get too excited, though: in New York State, a holographic will--meaning a will written completely by hand and not executed and attested in accordance with New York law--is invalid except if made by a mariner at sea or a member of the armed forces while at war.  Instead, for a will to be valid in New York State, the testator must declare it to be her last will and testament and sign the will in front of two witnesses who also must sign the will at the request of the testator.

Drafting a will yourself can create headaches not only for you but also for your family, as Aretha's family likely can attest.  Signing it without two witnesses makes it even messier.  While Aretha had many great accomplishments during her life, her estate plan wasn't one of them.  

Aretha Franklin was a global star for decades, known especially for hits like “Think,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Respect.” She did not leave behind a formal, typewritten will when she died five years ago at age 76.


estate plan, estate planning, wills, estates, aretha franklin, probate