In August 2018, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, passed away from pancreatic cancer aged 76. She had no Will in place even though she possesses an estate worth over $80 million. As a result, a number of different parties have filed notices of interest and recently it has been reported that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has now become involved. The IRS claim that Franklin’s estate owes $6.3 million in taxes plus penalties from 2012 to 2018, even with an attorney claiming that $3 million has already been paid to the IRS since her death in August.
An attorney working for Aretha Franklin’s estate, Dave Bennett, has commented: “We have a tax attorney. All of her returns have been filed. We have disputes with the IRS regarding what they claim was income. We claim its double-dipping income because they don’t understand how the business works. Franklin had a lot of expenses whenever she toured. Transportation, hotel rooms, backup singers, musicians all needed payment. When she did that the IRS was questioning the returns she filed.”
It’s no secret that Franklin had tax issues in the past. She was a target of a variety of lawsuits by creditors during the 1980s and ’90s, reportedly owed a total of $19,192 in taxes on a property in Detroit and had been sued for unpaid bills some thirty times. However, with her estate of $80 million, paying off any debts and bills shouldn’t be an issue.
“I was after her for a number of years to do a trust,” said Los Angeles attorney Don Wilson, who represented Franklin in entertainment matters for the past 28 years. “It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate, and kept things private. I just hope (Franklin’s estate) doesn’t end up getting so hotly contested. Any time they don’t leave a trust or will, there always ends up being a fight.”
The entire process is likely to take years and with no Will or Trust in place, this will only add to the complexity of the situation.
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