Skip to Content
New York & North Carolina

The Unintended Consequences of Dying Without a Will


As many of you may know legendary singer/songwriter Aretha Franklin died in 2018 without leaving a will. Other wealthy celebrities such as Prince have done the same. This can lead to many types of unwanted consequences.

As an example, the T&E department at PCS is currently representing the estate of another well-known actor who passed in 2017. Likewise, the decedent did not leave a Last Will and Testament. This led to many difficulties and extensive litigation regarding the custody and guardianship of a child. Even non-family members commenced litigation trying to gain custody and control of the child and the actor’s estate.

Separate proceedings were required in Family Court, Surrogates Court, and Supreme Court to handle these delicate and very complex issues. In addition to the incredible stress of managing these proceedings while coping with the death of a loved one, if a will had been prepared it may have saved the estate and the related parties great time and expense. Fortunately, in this case, PCS won custody and guardianship of the child for our client and the right to administer the decedent's estate! However, proper planning with your attorney can help ensure your wishes are followed.