Why Dolly Parton has made writing a will a priority

By Nina Steele 

Dolly PartonDolly Parton has been married to her husband Carl Dean since May 1966. The couple has no children. Her personal fortune is estimated to be around $500 million. Unlike some recently departed well-known artists who died without a will, thus leaving their relatives to fight over their estates in court, she has a will and advises other living artists to do the same.

Talking about the importance of writing a will in a recent article for billboard, she says: “I would not want to leave that mess to somebody else”. She goes on to stay: “A word to all the other artists out there, if you haven’t made those provisions, do that. You don’t want to leave that mess to your family for people to have to fight over. You need to take care of that yourself, even if it’s a pain in the ass, and it is”.

I could not agree with her more. And obviously, reading her statement brings immediately to mind the celebrities in recent years who died without a will. Prince and Aretha Franklin, as mentioned in the article, are among the most high profile ones. I still remember being completely taken aback when I heard that they did not have a will, considering their huge assets. Why indeed put your relatives through years of legal wrangles, when a will can make life easy for them.

I have written about writing a will a few years ago. It is especially important for those of us with no immediate heirs. Yes it can feel a bit daunting but it is worth the bother. I did also write about someone I knew who died without a will. She was in her 40s with no children. She was adopted as a child and from what I understand, had no contact with her birth parents. The people who adopted her were the only family she knew. And then she died without a will and all hell broke loose. Her birth parents came forward to claim her estate and won. The people whom she had known for most of her life walked away with nothing.

As painful as her story and similar ones are, that is the price for not having a will. She of course never expected to die in her 40s and probably thought she had all the time in the world to write one. But of course none of us know what is around the corner. That is why anyone with assets should have a will, regardless of age.

I am glad that Dolly Parton has chosen to speak so publicly about this most sensitive of subjects. People are often reluctant to talk about money for reasons that I don’t quite understand. We all know the importance of money in our lives, so why make it into a taboo subject?

I have heard all sorts of excuses people give for not having a will. The most common one is that it is tempting fate to have one. Nonsense. Since none of us know when death will come calling, why not do the right thing and make a will.

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