The legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, passed away on Aug. 16, 2018, of pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. Contrary to her lawyer’s advice to establish a will and trust before her death, Aretha Franklin did not leave behind an estate plan for her estimated $80 million estate. Since she was very private, she decided against formal estate planning and the battle over Aretha Franklin’s estate continues.
The Battle Between Multiple Wills
After Franklin’s death, Sabrina Owens, the singer’s niece, found handwritten wills in her Detroit home. One of the documents was written in 2010, and the other was written in 2014. Her son, Ted, favors the 2010 document that leaves Franklin’s Bloomfield Hills home to Ted and another son, Kecalf, equally. On the other hand, the 2014 document gives the Bloomfield Hills house solely to Kecalf, which her other sons, Kecalf and Edward, favor. Franklin’s eldest son, Clarence, is not involved in the case.
A Jury to Decide the Estate’s Fate
The Franklin family could not mediate a solution during probate. Now, her sons seek the legal determination of the late singer’s estate distribution, including music royalties, cash, jewelry, and property. Oakland County probate judge Jennifer Callaghan is overseeing the trial. Ultimately, a jury will decide which of the documents should be honored.
Lack of Planning Causes Tension
Sabrina Owens has spoken out about the contention in her family due to the varying opinions on the estate. She knows this is not what her aunt would have wanted. A family facing the death of a loved one is agonizing enough without the added pain of disputes with other family members over the estate. However, these disputes rarely come out of nowhere. Oftentimes, families can avoid them through proper estate planning.
While the battle over Aretha Franklin’s estate continues, it’s crucial to set up your estate plan now to avoid a similar situation. Our estate planning attorneys will help you protect your assets. Moreover, we can suggest and advise on various insurance policies and trusts to preserve you and your family’s wealth. Contact us today to get started.
The details of this blog post were excerpted from a CNN article.