A jury has ruled that a handwritten will by Aretha Franklin found in a sofa is valid.
When the Queen of Soul died in August 2018, her family believed she didn’t leave a will and that her assets would be divided equally between her four sons, Clarence, Kecalf and Edward Franklin, and Ted White Jr.
However, in May 2019, two handwritten documents, neither of which were traditionally executed by a lawyer, were discovered in her home in Detroit. One found in a locked cabinet was dated 2010 and the second, dated 2014, was found in a spiral notebook wedged underneath a sofa cushion.
On Tuesday, after a two-day trial and more than four years of family conflict, six jurors at a probate court in Pontiac, Michigan ruled that Franklin’s 2014 document should serve as her will, reports The New York Times.
There were notable differences between the wills. The 2010 document stipulated that Kecalf and Edward “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” to benefit from the estate while the 2014 one did not.
Under the will now ruled valid, Franklin declared that her music royalties and bank funds would be split evenly between her three sons – not including Clarence – while her youngest child Kecalf would inherit her gated mansion in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Kecalf and Edward argued in favour of the newer document, insisting it negated the earlier one, while their half-brother Ted believed it did not. He argued that the 2010 will was longer, more detailed, and featured Franklin’s signature on every page.
According to BBC News, Kecalf told reporters outside the courthouse, “I’m very, very happy. I just wanted my mother’s wishes to be adhered to. We just want to exhale right now. It’s been a long five years for my family, my children.”
Addressing the conflict with Ted, he added, “I love my brother with all my heart.”
The Respect singer’s eldest child Clarence, who has a mental illness, was not involved in the dispute. In a pre-trial agreement reached by the brothers and Clarence’s guardian, he will receive an undisclosed percentage of the estate.
– Cover Media