When you fail to plan for your demise, your heirs may end up fighting. With Aretha Franklin, three of her sons were battling in court over handwritten wills. The Queen of Soul, who died in 2018, had a few wills: one was dated and signed in 2010, which was found in a locked cabinet. Another, signed in 2014, was discovered in a spiral notebook under the cushions of a couch in her suburban Detroit home.
The Herald-Ledger’s recent article, “Aretha Franklin’s will was in her couch. Here’s where to keep yours,” says that a jury recently decided the couch-kept will is valid. However, Aretha didn’t clarify her final wishes. Her handwritten wills had notations that were hard to decipher, and she didn’t properly store the will she may have wanted to be executed upon her death.
The Herald-Ledger’s article gives some options for storing your will. First, don’t store your will in the couch.
You should keep your will where it is secure but easily located. Here are some options:
- Safe-deposit box: The downside is that the box might be initially inaccessible when you die. If your will is in the box, that’s an issue. The personal representative may need a copy of the will to access the box. If so, and a court order is required, it could take some time before the personal representative can get the will from the safe deposit box. If you do this, include your personal representative or the person designated to handle your estate on the safe deposit box contract.
- At home: Keep a copy of your will in a fireproof and waterproof safe, but make sure there’s a duplicate key, or you give the combination code to your personal representative or some other trusted person.
- With an attorney: You could leave a copy of the original documents with your attorney. But be sure your family knows the attorney’s name with the will.
- Local court: Check with the local probate court about storing your will and tell someone that you’ve placed your will in the care of the court.
- Electronic storage: You could store it online to keep your will safe. However, most states don’t yet recognize electronic wills. In Florida electronic wills are approved. As a result, you’ll need to have the originally signed copy of your will even if you store a digital copy.
All options to store your will have pros and cons. Whatever you do, tell the person designated to handle your estate where to find your will.
For a Free 15-minute consultation reach out to Carol L. Grant, P.A. practicing in Pembroke Pines, Davie, Cooper City, Miramar and the surrounding areas.
Reference: The Herald-Ledger (July 19, 2023) “Aretha Franklin’s will was in her couch. Here’s where to keep yours.”