A trial is set to begin this week in Pontiac, Michigan to determine which of two handwritten wills best reflects the testamentary wishes of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The singer did not leave a formal will, though she was engaged in estate planning with an attorney that was not concluded prior to her death five years ago. Franklin’s two sons, Kecalf and Edward Franklin, assert that a handwritten document found stuffed in a sofa and dated March 31, 2014, is the most recent version intended to be her will. This document would direct the distribution of property in Kecalf’s favor, leaving him two of four homes and Franklin’s cars. Her third son, Ted White II, believes a notarized document from 2010 should direct the distribution of her estate and would provide each son with monthly and weekly allowances. It could also be determined that neither document is a legitimate will, and the estate will be distributed according to Michigan intestacy law which would result in all of her children sharing equally in her estate.
The debate over Aretha Franklin’s estate underscores just how important it is to prepare a will to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. You can read more about the importance of estate planning and the biggest estate planning mistakes here or reach out to the Elder Law Team at Mandelbaum Barrett for any estate planning questions you may have.