Aretha Franklin has likely taught California residents many lessons about the importance of estate planning. Since her death in August 2018, Franklin’s niece had acted as the executor to her estate, but she gave up that role in January 2020, citing conflicts with other family members. The former personal representative said that she would not fulfill the role if it led to fractured relationships between family members. She also said that she would give up her position if disputes couldn’t be settled outside of court.

In a statement, the singer’s niece said that Aretha Franklin valued her privacy. Therefore, she would not have wanted family problems to be broadcast to the public. A hearing is scheduled for March 3 to determine who the new estate executor will be, and Franklin’s niece will continue to represent the estate until a replacement can be found.

Failing to write a valid will could make it harder for surviving relatives to determine what an individual’s final wishes are. This can result in fractured relationships between family members and a probate process that can take years to complete. Any money that is spent on attorneys or other costs related to probate disputes will come out of the estate itself. Therefore, beneficiaries may not receive their full inheritance or receive anything at all.

Those who are engaged in probate disputes may want to hire an attorney to represent their interests. An attorney may also be able to help an executor navigate the probate process in a manner consistent with state law. Individuals who are drafting an estate plan may want to do so with the help of a legal representative. Doing so may ensure that a will, trust or other plan document stands up to any legal challenges.