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Aretha Franklin Taught Us R-E-S-P-E-C-T… and That You Really Need a Will

Flowers and pictures are placed on Aretha Franklin's star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Los Angeles
Flowers and pictures are placed on Aretha Franklin's star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo


Last week, music lovers lost an icon when Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at 76.

According to TMZ, the Queen of Soul died intestate, meaning she did not have a will. Business Insider estimates Franklin had about $80 million in cash and assets when she died.

Knowing that, there are two lessons you can learn from Franklin’s life and death:

  1. Always demand your R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and
  2. Make sure your finances are in order before you die, no matter how morbid that seems.

Yes, You Still Need a Will Even if You’re Not the Queen of Soul

Thinking about drafting a will might seem unnecessarily dark. Especially if you’re young. Especially if you’re healthy. And especially if you’re broke.

Of course, the process of creating a will can be littered with legal jargon and a bit intimidating, which no doubt contributes to people putting it off.

But a will is not just for the super rich. In its simplest form, a will is there to make sure whatever money and assets you do have go to the people you choose. That can mean one less thing for your grieving loved ones to worry about when you’re gone.

By drafting a will, you can take a role in making sure your family is taken care of, rather than leaving it up to the state.

Depending on how much help you need, creating an estate plan with an attorney can cost up to $2,500. That should include a will, a trust to determine who will manage assets after your death, and documents granting legal and medical power of attorney so someone can make decisions on your behalf when you can’t.

You can use online services like Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom to help you fill out the documents yourself. That usually costs you less than $50 per document.

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes about how government and court actions impact your wallet.

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