Tensions Rise Over Aretha Franklin’s Handwritten Will
Aretha Franklin’s family are in a bitter feud over the legitimacy of handwritten wills being recently found and the current handling of her estate.
Despite Franklin dying intestate last summer, it seemingly appeared at the time that there would not be a family dispute – reporting that her four sons would receive equal shares of her fortune. Fast forward nearly a year later after her death, the tables have turned, and tensions are rising within the family.
Following the recent discovery of handwritten Wills being found in the famous soul and gospel singer’s suburban home in Detroit, the family has been arguing with each other over the validity and requests of Wills allegedly handwritten by Franklin before she passed away.
One of the Wills named her youngest son, Kecalf Franklin as the executor of her estate. However, other family members contest the Will and claim that Kecalf isn’t fit to handle such an important and valuable estate.
Consequently, Kecalf has since filed two court petitions seeking to be made an executor of his mother’s estate, alongside Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens as co-representative, who was appointed to the role last year – but with the intention to replace her in due course.
The Queen of Soul’s youngest son claims that Owens has “mismanaged the estate” and has “failed to perform a duty pertaining to office.”
According to documents, Kecalf confirms that Owens has not shared an inventory of his mother’s estate until four months after she had passed away. According to Michigan State Law, Owens should have prepared an inventory of Franklin’s property within 91 days following her appointment as a personal estate representative.
The document also alleges that Owens had not communicated details of the investigation into the appraised value of Franklin’s music catalogue or negotiations for television series and biography based on Franklin’s life.
Attorneys for Franklin’s estate said: “There is no basis to support the assumption” that Kecalf Franklin has the “ability, skill or knowledge” to act as the estate’s representative, even if the handwritten Will is determined to be valid, according to a court filing.
They also noted he is in “direct conflict” with other family members and Kecalf’s requests are intended to “micro-manage the estate”, the document states.
The dispute arose just as a judge was set to review the validity of one of three handwritten Wills by the late singer.
Following the Wills being found last month by Owens, lawyers for Franklin’s four sons were at loggerheads over the issue and consequently went to court to determine if the Wills are admissible to probate.
Accordingly, a handwriting expert has been hired to review the Wills but the examination has not been finalised.
As a professional Will writer, what is your opinion of this case?