Aretha Franklin’s recent passing is a prime example of why everyone should be ensuring they have a valid and updated Will in place. Not only did the Queen of Soul not have a formally executed Will, she died without any testamentary intentions recorded at all.

Franklin’s lawyer said he was ‘after her for a number of years’ and that having a Will would have ‘expedited things and kept them out of probate and kept things private’, but now, her financial details are likely to be made public in the Oakland County Probate Court. Further to that, her estate is now subject to a contest, as was seen when multiple claims were made against the estate of legendary musician Prince when he passed away in 2016.

In the State of Victoria, where somebody dies without a Will, their assets will generally pass to a spouse or to a spouse and their children (in accordance with the intestacy laws). Sometimes this won’t create a problem for the deceased’s family, but more often than not complications will arise.

The most effective way to avoid any potential issues is to record your wishes for the division of your estate, and the most effective way to do this is to ensure you have a valid Will in place. Not only does this provide you with peace of mind and security, but it means the beneficiaries of your inheritance can benefit from the many structuring opportunities available to you.

If you already have a Will, perhaps it’s time for a review of your existing arrangements. We recommend your Will be reviewed regularly, as your wishes for the provision of your children and other testamentary intentions often change over time.

Don’t find yourself Saying a Little Prayer that your unrecorded wishes will be heard.