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Aretha Franklin’s handwritten will challenged in court

By Maplebrook Wills

13th Sep '19

Wills

Aretha Franklin’s Will

A court case involving the estate of the late singer Aretha Franklin shows the problems caused by having a badly written will, or no will at all.

When the “Queen of Soul” died in August 2018, it was thought that she’d died intestate. That is without a will.

A handwritten note

But this year, handwritten wills were discovered in her Detroit home by Franklin’s niece Sabrina Owens, the estate’s personal representative

One document dates back to 2014 and was reportedly found in a notebook under a pile of cushions. Two earlier wills from 2010 were found in a locked cabinet.

The 2014 will apparently shows that the late singer intended one of her four sons – Kecalf Franklin – to serve as her executor.

Now, a US court has agreed to allow a handwriting expert to examine the 2014 will using microscopes and electrostatic devices, to help determine if the handwriting is indeed Aretha’s.

In the same hearing, Judge Jennifer Callaghan also placed the estate administration under court supervision.

It’s the latest twist in what amounts to a battle for control over the late singer’s estate, which could be worth millions of dollars.

Prior to the discovery of the handwritten will, it had been expected that the estate would be divided equally between Aretha’s four sons.

It was revealed in court that more than $350,000 had already been distributed, whilst $178,000 had been stolen from Franklin in the months before her death.

Future earnings, though, could be substantial. Already, $1.1m has already been earned by the release of the critically acclaimed documentary Amazing Grace – a concert film of one of Aretha’s early gospel performances.

However, an attorney for Kecalf Franklin told the court that Amazing Grace should never have been released, claiming that it was contrary to the wishes expressed by Aretha in her lifetime.

The administration of Aretha Franklin’s estate would have been a far smoother process if she’d destroyed copies of her old wills and given executors clear instructions before her death.

Don’t leave it too late to get your will written. Contact a Maplebrook Wills advisor on 0117 440 1555.

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