I often write about the importance of having a valid Will.

You might have been as surprised as I was to learn that Aretha Franklin, “the Queen of Soul”, died without a formal Will.

By not making a formal Will, the famous singer sparked more than four years of bitter family conflict – with her sons turning against each other – over how her estate should be divided.

It all ended this week after a Court in Michigan made a decision about which of two handwritten documents represented Aretha’s true wishes.

The documents were found in the singer’s home – one in a locked cabinet and the other in a notebook stuffed in her couch!

Apart from how her personal items should be divided, what was at stake was how her music royalties and other income would be split.

Ultimately the Court held that the handwritten notes found in the notebook in the couch prevailed.

All of the heartache, costs and the family dispute could have easily been avoided had Aretha taken the time to have her Will properly prepared – ensuring her wishes were R-E-S-P-E-C-Ted.