Clash of Wills Five Years After the Queen of Soul’s Passing

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A complex dispute has arisen among the children of Aretha Franklin, the late soul music icon, regarding the execution of their mother’s final wishes. Ted White II, the youngest of the siblings, claims that documents dating back to 2010 should be followed, while Kecalf Franklin and Edward Franklin assert the validity of a different document from 2014.

Both sets of documents were discovered at Franklin’s residence in the suburbs of Detroit several months after her passing in 2018 at the age of 76 due to pancreatic cancer. As the legendary singer did not leave behind a formal written will, the heirs are relying on a Michigan law that recognizes alternative forms of testament, including illegible scribbles or agenda pages, as potential indications of her wishes.

The estimated multimillion-dollar estate, including real estate properties in the Detroit suburbs, fur coats, dresses, jewelry, and future copyright royalties from her works, will be divided among her heirs. Sabrina Owens, a niece, has agreed to act as the personal representative or executor of the estate.

The forthcoming trial, commencing next Monday, aims to determine which document will govern the distribution of the American singer’s assets.

Conflicting Testaments

Although both documents suggest that the sons will share music and copyright revenues, there are discrepancies between them. The previous testament designates White and Owens as co-executors and stipulates that Kecalf and Edward Franklin “must pursue business courses and obtain a certificate or degree” to inherit from the estate.

However, the 2014 version removes Mr. White as the executor and replaces him with Kecalf Franklin. There is no mention of business courses. According to the 2014 document, Kecalf Franklin and his children would inherit his mother’s primary residence in Bloomfield Hills, which was valued at $1.1 million at the time of her death but holds a much higher value today.

“This is the crown jewel,” stated Craig Smith, Edward Franklin’s attorney

In 2014, Aretha Franklin expressed that her dresses could be auctioned or donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Both documents specify regular support for her eldest son, Clarence, who is under guardianship.

“Two conflicting wills cannot be admitted for probate. In this case, the more recent will revokes the previous one,” argued Charles McKelvie, Kecalf Franklin’s attorney, in a court filing favoring the 2014 document.

Soukaina Sghir

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