3 handwritten wills found in Aretha Franklin's home
Lawyers reported singer had no will when she died last year at age 76
Three handwritten wills have been found in the suburban Detroit home of Aretha Franklin, months after the Queen of Soul's death — including one that was discovered under cushions in the living room, a lawyer said Monday.
The most recent will is dated March 2014 and appears to give the famous singer's assets to family members. Some writing is extremely hard to decipher, however, and the four pages have words scratched out and phrases in the margins.
Franklin was 76 when she died last August of pancreatic cancer. Lawyers and family members said at the time that she had no will, but three handwritten versions were discovered earlier this month.
Two of the wills, from 2010, were found in a locked cabinet after a key was located. The 2014 version was inside a spiral notebook under cushions, said David Bennett, a lawyer for Franklin's estate.
Bennett, who was Franklin's lawyer for more than 40 years, filed the wills on Monday. He told a judge he's not sure if they're legal under Michigan law. A hearing is scheduled for June 12.
Singer's sons object to wills
Bennett said the wills were shared with Franklin's four sons or their lawyers, but that a deal wasn't reached on whether any should be considered valid. A statement from the estate said two of the singer's sons object to the wills.
"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," the statement said.
Sabrina Owens, an administrator at the University of Michigan, will continue to serve as personal representative of the estate.
In a separate court filing, the singer's son, Kecalf Franklin, said his mother wanted him to serve as representative of the estate in the 2014 will. He is objecting to plans to sell a piece of land next to his mother's Oakland County home for $325,000 US.
There hasn't been much wrangling over the singer's estate — at least not in public.
Judge Jennifer Callaghan in April approved the hiring of experts to appraise Franklin's assets and personal belongings, including memorabilia, concert gowns and household goods. The Internal Revenue Service has filed a claim for more than $6 million US in taxes.
Franklin's star, meanwhile, hasn't faded since her death. She was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize in April, cited posthumously for her extraordinary career. Her 1972 concert film Amazing Grace was released with much praise from critics.
The estate is involved in "many continuing projects ... including various television and movie proposals, as well as dealing with various creditor claims and resulting litigation," Bennett said.