Learn from Aretha: R-E-S-P-E-C-T the plan

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Proper planning can save time and money spent on professional fees, taxes and court costs. It can reduce or eliminate family in-fighting. Planning can perpetuate a family’s goals, values and legacy.

By Bill Yurgen

Legendary entertainer Aretha Franklin passed away last month. The amazing thing is that she died without any estate or financial planning. Her estate is estimated to be over $80 million and she has four sons who could stand to inherit her wealth.

Unfortunately, the sons won’t get the majority of that wealth. Much of the estate will go to lawyers, accountants and inheritance taxes—expenses that could have been reduced by some upfront planning. 

The amount could also be reduced if there are others who believe they have a claim to some of the assets. Anyone making a claim will trigger more legal and accounting expenses and could delay a settlement of the estate for years.

Aretha joins Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye and many other celebrities in not planning for the future. You would think that wealthy individuals and families would be surrounded by professional advisors who would make sure that proper planning has been completed. Unfortunately, it seems that these well-known individuals are too busy to take the time to plan. Sound familiar?

And how do we know about the intimate details of these celebrities’ lives? Without proper planning, their entire financial picture is laid bare for all to see. The settlement of their unplanned estates is an open record of the probate court. Would you like the world to see your bank and investment statements, your real estate holdings, loans, and all the rest?

Proper planning can save time and money spent on professional fees, taxes and court costs. It can reduce or eliminate family in-fighting. Planning can perpetuate a family’s goals, values and legacy. 

Yes, planning can take time and money. Yes, sometimes it’s difficult to think about and discuss unpleasant future events. Yes, you have to make some tough decisions. 

But wouldn’t you rather make the tough decisions now while you can think and plan them—instead of forcing your heirs to make rush decisions without the benefit of foresight?

For most of us, it’s enough to know that our children will be cared for by those we choose, that our funds will pass in the most tax efficient and inexpensive way, that our loved ones can decide how we are cared for when we can’t care for ourselves, and that our loved ones will respect our decisions concerning end-of-life.

Learn from Aretha. Respect the plan. Let us know if we can help.

Michael Brady is a fee-only, full-time fiduciary and certified financial planner. To set up an appointment, call 440-235-2100, email Mike@MichaelBradyCo.com, or visit MichaelBradyCo.com.