3 handwritten testament found in Aretha Franklin’s house

FILE – In this Dec. 4, 2008 file photo, Aretha Franklin performs during the 85th annual christmas tree lighting on the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Three handwritten testament are found in the suburbs of Detroit, the home of Aretha Franklin, months after the death of the “Queen of Soul”, including one that was discovered underneath the cushions in the living room, a lawyer said Monday.

The last is dated March 2014 and seems to show the famous singer of assets to family members. Some writing is very difficult to decipher, however, and the four pages have words scratched and phrases in the margin.


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 the three handwritten versions were discovered earlier this month. Two of 2010 were found in a cabinet after a key was located.

The 2014 version is in a spiral notebook under the cushions, said a lawyer for Franklin’s estate, David Bennett.

Bennett, who was Franklin’s lawyer for more than 40 years, and served the wills on Monday. He told the court that he is not sure whether they are legal under Michigan law. A hearing is scheduled for June 12.

Bennett said that the testaments were shared with the Franklin four sons, or their lawyers, but that a deal was not reached on the question of whether it should be deemed to be valid. A statement from the estate said two sons to object to the will.

Sabrina Owens, an administrator at the University of Michigan, will continue to serve as the personal representative of the estate.

“They will remain neutral and wish that all concerned parties make informed choices on behalf of their mother, its rich heritage, the family and the Aretha Franklin estate,” the statement said.

In a separate court filing, the son Kecalf Franklin said Aretha Franklin wanted him to serve as a representative of the estate in 2014. He is objecting to the plans to sell a piece of land next to his mother, Oakland County home for $325,000.

Judge Jennifer Callaghan in April approved the hiring of experts in order to assess whether the Franklin assets and personal belongings, including memorabilia, concert gowns and household goods. The Internal Revenue Service is auditing many years of Franklin, tax returns, according to the estate. It filed a claim in December for more than $6 million in taxes.


Franklin’s star, meanwhile, is still not faded since her death. She was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize in April, cited posthumously for her extraordinary career. In 1972 concert film, “Amazing Grace”, was released with much praise from the critics.

The estate is involved in the “many ongoing projects … including several television and film proposals, as well as dealing with various creditor claims and the resulting disputes,” Bennett said.

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