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Aretha Franklin's Alleged Handwritten Wills Discovered in Her House

Junie Sihlangu
May 22, 2019
01:58 P.M.

Legendary musician Aretha Franklin passed away last August from pancreatic cancer. At the time, her family had believed that she left no will, but now three wills have been found.

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On Monday, the attorney for Aretha Franklin’s estate, David Bennett, revealed that three handwritten wills were found in the suburban Detroit home of the late singer. One of the wills was discovered inside a spiral notebook under cushions in the living room.

Her latest will, dated March 2014, said Franklin’s wishes were that her assets should be given to her family members. The four pages of the will had some illegible writing, scratched out words, and phrases in the margins.

Aretha Franklin | Photo: Getty Images

Aretha Franklin | Photo: Getty Images

At the time of her death, her lawyers and family members had revealed that she had no will until now. Franklin’s other two wills were from 2010 and they were found in a locked cabinet after a key was located.

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Bennett, who was Franklin’s lawyer for more than 40 years, filed the wills on Monday. Speaking to a judge, the attorney revealed he wasn’t sure if the wills were legal under Michigan law.

June 12 was set as the hearing date. Bennett also shared that the wills were shared with Franklin’s four sons or their lawyers, however, a decision wasn’t made on whether any of them should be considered valid.

A statement from the estate said two of the singer’s sons had objected to the wills. Sabrina Owens, an administrator at the University of Michigan, will continue to serve as personal representative of the estate.

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The statement on Owens read:

“She remains neutral and wishes that all parties involved make wise choices on behalf of their mother, her rich legacy, the family and the Aretha Franklin estate.”

In a separate court filing, the late singer’s son Kecalf Franklin said his mother wanted him to serve as the representative of the estate in the 2014 will. His objection was to the plan to sell a piece of land next to his mother’s Oakland County home for $325,000.

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In April, Judge Jennifer Callaghan approved the hiring of experts to appraise Franklin’s assets and personal belongings. These items included memorabilia, concert gowns, and household goods.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is currently auditing Franklin’s tax returns from many years. Last December, they filed a claim for more than $6 million in taxes.

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Despite her death, the “Queen of Soul” hasn’t been forgotten. Last month, she was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize cited posthumously for her extraordinary career.

A 1972 concert film, “Amazing Grace,” was also released and it received much praise from critics. The late musician’s estate is involved in “many continuing projects ... including various television and movie proposals, as well as dealing with various creditor claims and resulting litigation.”

Franklin was a self-taught piano prodigy, vocalist, and songwriter. She became famous in the late ‘60s after conquering the music charts. She passed away at the age of 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.

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