A Michigan jury decided after less than an hour July 11 regarding which of the two handwritten wills left behind by late singer Aretha Franklin would determine how her multimillion estate was divided amongst her sons.
The jury ruled that Franklin’s 2014 will would be upheld as the one that distributed her estate with her final wishes in mind. The decision came after a short trial, according to the Associated Press.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s niece found the 2014 document in a notebook stashed between couch cushions in Franklin’s Detroit-area home shortly after the singer died in 2018. The search also drudged up Franklin’s 2010 will, which had different stipulations than its successor. The Queen of Soul never solidified her last wishes with formal, typewritten documentation.
The latest ruling on the contesting wills is a win for Franklin’s sons, Kecalf Cunningham Franklin and Edward Franklin.
The two have been in a contentious legal battle with their brother, Ted White II, who wanted their mother’s 2010 will to be honored. The latter document outlined Ted and Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, as co-executors of the legendary singer’s estate. It also required the Franklin sons “to take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” before they received their shares of the singer’s estate.
A noteworthy request in the 2014 will was for Kecalf and Franklin’s grandchildren to receive the singer’s primary home in Bloomfield Hills, MI. The residence is assumed to be worth much more than the $1.1 million valued when the performer passed.
Both wills noted that all four sons would share the income from the royalties of Franklin’s music and copyrights. As MADAMENOIRE previously reported, Franklin’s eldest son Clarence Franklin was regarded in both wills. The mother of four directed that the documents’ executors ensured Clarence was cared for, as he lives in an assisted living center under guardianship.
Judge Jennifer Callaghan scheduled a status conference for the conflicting parties to discuss what if any, wishes made in the 2010 document would be fulfilled. The meeting will also regard whether Kecalf will become the 2014 will’s executor.
The judge expects both camps to file briefs and attend the conference.
“I’m very, very happy. I just wanted my mother’s wishes to be adhered to,” Kecalf said after the July 11 jury ruling. “We just want to exhale right now. It’s been a long five years for my family, my children.”
Ted has yet to comment on the July 11 ruling. His lawyer, Kurt Olson, said, “We were here to see what the jury would rule. We’ll live with it.”
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