Aretha Franklin died with the world’s respect, yet she did not have a will.


This means The Queen of Soul’s estimated $80 million fortune will not be settled efficiently according to Ms. Franklin’s documented wishes. It will be settled very inefficiently by courts of law.


Why do responsible and intelligent people find it so difficult to take care of an issue they know they need such as getting a current will in place?


I started to ponder this with the recent news about Aretha Franklin passing without a will.  In fact, almost 2 years after the artist Prince died, his heirs have yet to see a penny of his estimated $200 million-dollar estate. All because he died without a will!


A quick Google inquiry “Why don’t people get wills?” resulted in 51,700,000 results in .47 Seconds. Clearly, this is on the minds of many.


There is no shortage of information on the subject, so I will go out on a limb and suggest this:


It is not because people do not think they need a will. In my experience, everyone I meet knows they need documents in place that outline their wishes if the unfortunate happens to them.


Here are my rather unscientific theories on what prevents people from doing what they know needs to be done.  Heck, as the father of 5 boys ages 10 to 16, I may be considered an expert on the subject.


  1. No one enjoys thinking about their own mortality!  Putting together a document that outlines your wishes makes you think about an uncomfortable yet inevitable reality that your own time on the earth could end tomorrow.  Our natural reaction is to avoid putting ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. It is uncomfortable to think about days and weeks after you die. Yet it is essential to think about the lives of people you care about most after you are gone.
  2. Creating a will seems like a “chore” rather than something you want to accomplish. Let’s face it, no one likes doing chores – at least not around my house!
  3. School does not teach us about the correct way to handle personal finances. Why we need insurance, a will, and how to save for our future simply are not topics covered very well in our current educational system. They should be, but alas, they are not.
  4. People are unsure about how much it will cost, and how or where to get it done. It’s tough to get excited about spending money on something you hope to never need.


Let’s shift to what usually causes people to get in gear and check this task off of their proverbial list.


  • The motivation occurs when a friend or loved one passes without a will, and they see problems left for the family.


It is hard enough to handle a loved one’s affairs when everything is in place and prepared ahead of time. With additional mayhem caused by the lack of a will, sparing one’s own family from such heartache is profound motivation.


Any financial planner can attest to stories of families being torn apart, fighting over an estate due to lack of a will. It even happens to people who previously enjoyed the most harmonious and loving of relationships.


  • On a similar note, a near accident or scary medical diagnosis can be the necessary wake up call. Such situations are often stressful enough to get people moving on their plan.


When I ask clients about their will, many who lack one respond with sheepish guilt. They ask that I introduce them to an attorney who can perform the task as soon as possible. That is music to my ears!


  • Lastly, there are those like me, who are motivated by a deep belief in a variation of Murphy’s Law. That is, once I have all of my intentions documented in a will I will be 100 times less likely to need it. In other words, that will prolongs my life – at least in theory!


What I have yet to hear is a client say, “I decided to complete my will because I read this really clever blog by a really clever financial services advisor. That alone motivated me to take action!”


If you ever hear of that happening, please tell me.


Whatever compelling motivation you find, I encourage you to do what you know needs to be done. It is the smart and right thing to do.


Please contact our office to schedule a call or appointment. We will do our best to help you find the motivation you need!


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


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Having a strong relationship with an advisor can help you be better prepared to live your life through the ups and downs of the market. That’s the value of discipline, perspective, and calm. That’s the difference the right financial advisor makes.


David Gaynes | President, Gaynes Financial Services | 770-353-6350 | www.CapitalGaynes.com