Aretha Franklin died without a will. What does this mean for her estate?

Aretha Franklin - Queen of Soul We learned recently that Aretha Franklin, the late Detroit native and Queen of Soul to millions of her fans around the world, has died without a will. News reports to this effect broke early last week, causing many to wonder how this will affect the vast wealth she accumulated [...]

Artwork, Antiques, Collectibles… How to Plan for Them?

Don’t let your investments end up being considered just “personal property.” After your death, all of the things in your home or office are considered  “personal property” and depending on how you’ve planned, may become subject to the determination of the person appointed as your personal representative.  The personal representative can decide to sell them, [...]

We Should All Have A Death File

A death file is either a physical or digital file that contains everything that a loved one would need after your passing. What should be in your death file? Well there are the obvious documents, like your last will and testament, any trust documents, beneficiary designations, etc. But what else is important? You should have [...]

I’ve Been Appointed Personal Representative – What Now!?

The probate court has delivered Letters of Authority appointing you as Personal Representative of your loved one’s estate. So, now what? This is a tremendous responsibility, and it is easy to get overwhelmed by the long list of what needs to be done, all the different court requirements and deadlines, and the arduous processes of [...]

Trump’s New Estate Tax Bill: What You Need to Know

Unless you have millions of dollars as either an individual (more than $5,500,000) or as a couple (more than $11 million), you may become nauseated at the very thought of a discussion on estate tax. After all, the federal estate tax is only felt by about 1 in 500 American families. However, you should really [...]

Marriotts: Dirty Laundry Airing in Probate Court

The Marriott hotel always looks polished and professional from the outside. Recently, however, we learned that the Marriott family does have some dirty laundry airing out in a probate court. The good news? They are just like every other family – interesting, and not without drama. Meet the Marriotts: J. Willard and Alice Marriott first [...]


Approaching the middle of May means springing into many things – allergies, graduations, and cleaning house. Keeping with the spirit of rejuvenation, many people decide not to keep cleaning the same house but, rather, to move into a completely new home. Maybe an empty-nester couple decides to downsize, a growing family decides to upgrade, or [...]


In 2017, an SSI recipient's individual income increased from $733 per month to $735 per month.  A couple's SSI benefit increased from $1,100 per month to $1,103 per month. Retired workers received a $5 bump on average, to $1,360. Average Monthly Social Security Benefits 2017 The following are the estimated average monthly Social Security benefits [...]


One of the primary reasons people prepare an estate plan is to avoid the need to go to probate. There is a great misunderstanding about the effect of dying with only a Will. Unfortunately, most people believe that if you die with a Will you avoid the necessity of going to the probate court. This [...]

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