Last week, our country suffered a great loss following the death of singer Aretha Franklin. While the country grieves, no one will likely feel her death more acutely than her family. Unfortunately, despite amassing what is assumed to be a sizable estate, it was recently revealed Ms. Franklin died without a Will or a trust with instructions on dividing her assets. Without a Will or trust, Ms. Franklin’s children and attorneys will have to go through a more complicated, expensive legal process in which her finances will likely become public record. Her estate will be distributed through the intestate (without a Will) laws of distribution in Michigan, where she lived and died. Intestate laws vary by state. Many of our clients have been surprised to learn Texas intestate laws vary based on your marital status at time of death and whether you have children from multiple marriages. If Ms. Franklin had prepared a Will or trust as it is reported she was encouraged to do by her lawyer, she could have lived with certainty her assets would be distributed exactly as she wanted at the time of her demise and avoided a more public scrutiny of her finances. While many of us are uncomfortable thinking about estate planning, a solid estate plan will ultimately provide comfort to your family members and representatives in knowing they are carrying out your wishes.