Two papers that sparked rifts in the late Aretha Franklin’s family after her passing in 2018 were discovered in a cupboard and sofa.
A jury ruled on Tuesday that the singer’s handwritten will, which was discovered on her sofa after she passed away, is a legal Michigan will, marking a significant development in the conflict that has pitted three of her four sons against one another.
It’s a win for Edward and Kecalf, the Queen of Soul’s youngest and second-oldest children, whose attorneys had claimed that documents dated 2014 should supersede a 2010 will that was found around the same time in a locked cabinet at the singer’s home in the suburbs of Detroit.
Clarence, Franklin’s eldest kid, is in a Michigan assisted living home with special needs and is not engaged in the conflict. The BBC was informed by his guardian’s attorney that they “have reached a settlement that gives Clarence a percentage of the estate without regard to the outcome of the will contest.”
When Aretha Franklin passed away at age 76 from pancreatic disease five years ago, she did not leave a formal, typewritten will behind. But when her niece Sabrina Owens searched the house for papers in 2019, both documents—complete with scribbles and difficult-to-read passages—suddenly appeared.
In the 2010 revision of Franklin’s will, Owens and Franklin’s third-oldest child, Ted White II, were named as co-executors or personal representatives of the estate. In 2020, Owens resigned as the executor of her aunt’s inheritance as a result of tensions among the family.
This is not what Owens or I would have wanted for us, given my aunt’s love of family and desire for privacy, in a letter that was submitted to a Detroit court.I adore my cousins, have no ill will towards them, and want the best for them.
Due to more current estimates and unpaid taxes, Franklin’s assets, which were formerly estimated at $80 million when she passed away, fell to $6 million.
The executors of Franklin’s estate have been resolving millions of dollars’ worth of tax obligations, paying bills, and making money from song royalties and other intellectual property. But there has been unfinished business with the will controversy.
Although there are some discrepancies between the 2010 and 2014 versions, both seem to imply that the four sons of Aretha Franklin would split the proceeds from music and copyrights.
The primary residence of his mother in Bloomfield Hills, which was assessed at $1.1 million when she passed away but is now worth considerably more, would instead go to Kecalf Franklin and his grandkids under the 2014 will.
According to the earlier will, Kecalf, 53, and Edward Franklin, 64, “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” in order to receive inheritance money. The 2014 version does not have such clause.
Ted White II, who played guitar with Aretha Franklin, testified in opposition to the 2014 will, stating that his mother normally had crucial papers completed “conventionally and legally” and with the aid of an attorney.
Don Wilson, an entertainment attorney who advised Franklin for over 30 years, told NBC that as part of her estate preparation, he recommended she establish a will and a trust.
She was, however, a very private person, and I believe that she didn’t want to provide that information to someone else, such as an attorney. I believe this is the reason why she didn’t conduct official planning for a long time; instead, she drew things up herself, according to him.
For many years, Franklin was a household name throughout the world, best known for songs like Think, I Say a Little Prayer, and Respect.