Estate Planning Basics Inspired by the Music of Aretha FranklinWhen Aretha Franklin — the Queen of Soul — died without a will, she joined a long line of entertainers who also died without leaving a clear path to divide their worldly goods.

Other entertainers who passed away without a will include Prince, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Sonny Bono and Kurt Cobain.

Perhaps the most notorious case of an entertainer who died without a will is James Brown. It's been 11 years since he died and not a penny of his estate has been distributed yet. There is no end in sight to the chaos of his estate.

With Aretha's passing in mind, here are smart tips for estate planning to ponder that are inspired by among her top song titles and performances.

  • A recent study shows that over 60% of American adults don't have a will. Show a little ‘RESPECT’ to your heirs and get organized now. Think of your estate documents like ‘A Bridge Over Troubled Water’ to help those who survive you to get through the tough times and move on.
  • Recognize that ‘A Change Is Gonna Come.’ Even though we don't like to think about the end of life, it's going to happen. Rather than just ‘Day Dreaming’ about creating estate documents for your heirs, get started by finding a good estate attorney. Ask friends for referrals or look at the State Bar Association website for a list of estate planning attorneys. Consider engaging a tax adviser for complicated estates.
  • Take inventory of your assets. Then ‘Think’ about what you want to have happen with assets accumulated over time. Sit down with an estate attorney to make sure wishes are put down on paper in a legally binding way.
  • Once you are gone, you want your wishes to be ‘Rock Steady.’ It's too easy for your assets to be mishandled by a ‘Chain of Fools.’
  • Everyone needs four estate planning documents: a will, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney and medical directive. These documents are your ‘Freeway of Love.’
  • As you think about who you want to inherit your property, be ‘Willing to Forgive.’  Many times clients regret the passing of a relative. Be forgiving of family issues before it's too late.
  • Finally wills and estate documents are not just for the rich. They are for ‘Everyday People’ including young adults — especially if there are children involved.

Once you've committed to creating an estate plan, it ‘Won't Be Long’ before you have it all together for your heirs.  That's a more complete option than just ‘Saying a Little Prayer for You' and hoping for the best.

Keep in mind that estate plans may need to be adjusted over time as circumstances change.

As Aretha sang, these are ‘Ever Changing Times’ and your estate documents need to keep up.

Estate Planning Basics Inspired by the Music of Aretha Franklin

Steve Juetten is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and the Co-Founder of Life Goes on Roadmap™.   

This is  system for personal financial information organization that gives couples power, access, and control over their most important financial documents and accounts so either party can drive life forward, no matter what life serves up next.  Learn more at this link.