Following the death of The Queen of Soul Music, Aretha Franklin in August 2018, it was revealed that she had failed to put any Estate Planning in place, not even a basic Will, to protect the estimated $80 million Estate.
The IRS has now joined the multiple interested parties claiming back tax, which is thought to be around $6.3 million. This could be as much as $8 million if the claim is successful and penalties and interest are applied to the tax bill. The IRS has demanded payment as a priority, in advance of any distribution to other creditors making claims.
Aretha’s four sons have already filed notices of interest in her Estate with the Probate Court. The Net Estate is expected to be divided between them.
Franklin had a history of disorganised financial affairs and was reportedly sued some 30 times for unpaid bills in the preceding decade. It is understood that she tried to handle her own finances and usually didn’t talk to professionals until it was too late. In the past two years, she had forfeited three properties and had a financial claim against a fourth by the IRS.
Concluding her complex Estate affairs, including numerous properties and copyrights to her songs and partial copyrights for many of those she covered is likely to take years. There will also be Inheritance Tax charges of around 40% against the net value of the Estate for her sons to pay after the creditors have been paid. All of these issues could have been resolved during her lifetime with professional advice and planning.
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