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Oh Me, Oh My

As I have written previously, when Aretha Franklin died last August, she was presumed to have died intestate (without a will). Her niece, Sabrina Owens, was then designated as the estate administrator. Since then, three handwritten documents purporting to be her will(s) have surfaced. Franklin’s youngest son, Kecalf Franklin, has asked the probate court to be appointed as representative of the estate. One of his brothers supports him in this request while two others oppose him. The filing of one brother said that Kecalf has never demonstrated the ability or willingness to support himself and lacks the financial knowledge to serve as executor. After a court hearing last week, for now, the niece remains in control of the estate with decisions subject to court approval.

Two points:

1, Kecalf does not seem qualified to serve as executor so keeping him out of the process seems good for now.

2. Gosh. If someone has pancreatic cancer, prepare a will. Time is of the essence.

“Who Wants Flowers When You Are Dead? Nobody.”

Lamont Buchanan, the reputed role model for the second greatest fictional character of all-time (Holden Caufield of “Catcher in the Rye”) died without a will two years ago. A woman claiming to be his long-lost 80 year old niece was located by several heir hunting firms and has now stepped forward and filed documentation to prove that she is his closest living kin. Buchanan was an author who lived in an NYC rent controlled apartment and essentially stopped working in the mid-50’s. His estate is valued at $15 million.

A few points:

1. A childless widower worth $15 million should take the time and splurge on legal fees to prepare a will so his fortune ends up with those charities or people important to him rather than defaulting to a woman who was unaware of his death.

2. After estate taxes, a $15 million estate in NY is worth $10 million.

3. Perhaps the owners of his rent controlled apartments should share in his estate because the mandatory low rents likely contributed to his accumulated wealth.

4. It would be ironic if the woman claiming to be Buchanan’s niece is a phony.

Photo Credit:  NY Daily News

License:  Fair Use/Education

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All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.