Inside Aretha Franklin’s Inevitable $80 Million Estate Feud

When a legendary performer dies, it’s usually expected that they have a detailed and extensive will or estate plan in place.

Unfortunately, the recent news of the death of legendary singer Aretha Franklin reminds us that this is not always the case.


Aretha Franklin’s Estate Feud


Shortly after her passing, it was learned that Aretha Franklin did not have a will or trust in place. Her four sons have filed a document declaring themselves as interested parties and beneficiaries, although as most of us are aware, this process can take a long time.


It’s reported that Aretha Franklin’s Lawyer (who represented her for over 30 years) repeatedly asked Franklin to create a trust and will, which she neglected frequently. Franklin’s lawyer is hoping that the estate isn’t contested for a long period of time, however, he admits that “there always ends up being a fight”.


Currently, Aretha Franklin’s estate is worth $80 million, increasing the likelihood of estate feuds dramatically.

Tips for Avoiding Estate Feuds


While the average Canadian may not have the estate size of a famous performer, Aretha Franklin’s situation should remind everyone of how important it is to maintain and possess a will and estate plan.


No one can 100% prevent estate feuds, but if you follow these tips and best practices your estate will be prepared for the worst.


  1. Don’t Procrastinate With Your Will or Estate Plan
    Approximately 51% of Canadians are without a will or estate plan. With over half the country’s population missing a will, it is clear that executors of the future will face a complicated and frustrating challenge fraught with legal and financial risks.

    If you don’t have a will or estate plan, especially if you have dependants like children, you should create one as soon as possible. Protecting your family and loved ones is one of the most important reasons why Canadians update their will or estate plan as frequently as possible. This is especially true as the blended family unit becomes more common in Canada and step-children and spouses, for example, need to be included.

  2. Have An Executor Already in Mind and Discuss it Directly with Them
    Choosing an executor for your estate and will is the next important step in getting your estate in order. Be warned - the job of an executor is far from easy. Often times, tough decisions can cause disorder and chaos within the family.

    Ensure that the person you choose as your executor is someone you trust, someone who is financially savvy, and with good communication skills. Although it is very common to select a child or several children as executors, it is recommended to avoid this if possible due to potential disputes and bias.

  3. Create a Living Will
    It’s highly recommended that all Canadians update their wills with a document that outlines your procedures and wishes in the case that you become ill or unable (incapacitated) to make decisions for yourself.

    One of the most common controversies that arises from incapacitation is the decision of being removed from life support. Instead of a family member making a life-changing decision on your behalf, your living-will can outline how you would like each situation handled.

Are you currently without a will or estate plan?

Learn more about what to consider when preparing your will on or download this complimentary Will Preparation Guide to assist you in getting your will started.

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as an Executor?

Executors can be held personally liable for actions they take in estate administration. Talk to one of our Estate Risk Professionals today for your free estate risk analysis.


Downloadable Resources

Want more information on planning, preparing and administering an estate? Download our easy to use reference guides and resources to help you along the way.


  • Executor Liability Insurance - Return the completed application to our office to find out if you are eligible for executor liability insurance.


  • Fiduciary Bonds - Have you been asked to provide a bond for the estate? Download the application and follow the directions to apply for a bond.


  • Free Executor Guide - If you have been asked to be an executor or are acting as an executor this guide will help you understand your responsibilities and help track your activities.


  • Free Will Preparation Guide - A step to step guide to the questions you will need to address when preparing your will.


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