Aretha Franklin, who died August 16, 2018 at age 76, left behind a powerful legacy as one of America's greatest singers, with an extensive catalog of chart-topping hits—but left no guidance on how to distribute her estate. Her death without a will or trust in place has prompted conversations about the importance of having a plan.
She isn't the first celebrity to pass without a plan in place. Prince also died in 2016 without a will or trust, causing a battle over his estate after his death. And it's not just celebrities. AARP reports that six in 10 U.S. adults do not have a will.1
The challenges families can face when a loved-one passes without a will highlight the importance of planning. And while that process can involve many emotionally taxing considerations, it's crucial to begin sooner rather than later.
"Although creating an estate plan may seem overwhelming, it is essential to ensuring that you and your family are well prepared," the UBS Advanced Planning team writes in Estate planning 101
To die without a will, as in Franklin and Prince's case, is to die "intestate." If this occurs, the state will determine how your assets will be distributed according to each state’s specific intestacy laws—and "this may or may not be consistent with your wishes," the Advanced Planning team notes.
Planning involves more than just leaving a will or a trust. In addition to how you would like your assets distributed once you've passed, planning should also involve considerations for incapacity and end of life, such as how you would like to be cared for in your time of need and who you would like to have speak on your behalf in the case of your incapacity.
"If you do not take the time to make decisions now while you are alive and well, you risk that those decisions will be made for you by others," such as your grieving family members, state intestacy laws or by a court of law, the Advanced Planning team writes.
To help you get started, UBS Advanced Planning recommends assessing what you have in place today. By creating an inventory that includes your current assets, liabilities and insurance policies, you are better positioned to perform regular reviews of your current net worth and estate plan. A detailed net worth summary can help you and your advisors uncover planning opportunities. It will also be helpful for your personal representatives, agents, estate advisors and/or surviving beneficiaries.
To further assist, you may also wish to keep an up-to-date list of important contacts; online accounts and passwords; income and expense information; and the location of your estate planning documents.
"Having all of this information organized and easily accessible will greatly reduce the stress placed on your loved ones, at a time when paperwork is likely the least of their concerns," the Advanced Planning team says.
To learn more, read the full UBS Advanced Planning Insights report, Estate planning 101 .
Have you done everything you can to plan for your family's future? Together we can find an answer. Connect with your UBS Financial Advisor or find one.