The Estate of Aretha Franklin: What Happens When You Die Without a Will or Trust?

Did you know that a huge benefit of getting a trust is to protect your family's privacy?  This reason alone has caused quite a stir with Aretha Franklin's estate because all of Aretha's assets and financial holdings will be made public since she did not have her estate planning in order when she died. 

Quite often we hear our clients say that they do not need a trust because they are not rich. However, there are many reasons why a person would get a trust regardless of the amount of money in his or her bank account. One monumental reason is protecting privacy.  

Because Ohio has a strong open public record law, the stage is set for scam artists to take advantage of unsuspecting Ohio citizens.  If probate is not avoided and there is more than one beneficiary, then an accounting of all the probate assets that the decedent owned will be made public record through the probate process. Most of the probate records dating back to the 1980's are online for anyone to view. That reason alone motivates many people to get a trust, so that their assets are not on public display.

The publication of probate records happens to anyone who dies without a will or trust, even the rich and famous. Take Aretha Franklin, for example.  When the legendary singer died on August 16, 2018, with no will or trust, all of the assets in her name alone with no beneficiary will have to go through probate and be exposed to the public.  To avoid what will happen to Aretha's estate from happening to your estate, include a trust in your estate plan and fully fund it.  By keeping your personal and financial information out of the probate court, you are protecting your family from unnecessary risks arising from easy public access to your family's personal and financial information.