Aretha Franklin’s handwritten will found in her couch cushion has been declared valid. The iconic singer died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76 on Aug. 16, 2018. At the time of her death, she did not have a will present. By default, her sons, Edward and Kecalf Franklin and Ted White Jr., were to split her assets which ultimately led to a dispute. Franklin’s fourth son Clarence is under legal guardianship and did not participate in the trial according to the Associated Press.
According to CNN, Franklin had two wills. The will found in the couch was dated March 31, 2014, while the other was from 2010. Both documents stated that the brothers would share the income from her music and copyrights.
On Monday (July 10), the handwritten will found in the couch was presented in a probate court trial in Michigan. According to CNN, Franklin’s niece Sabrina Owens found the note in Franklin’s Detroit home. The other handwritten will from 2010 was found in a locked cabinet in 2019, The New York Times reports.
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According to the Associated Press, the attorneys that represented Kecalf and Edward favored the 2014 document. In the 2010 will, it stated that Kecalf and Edward “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” to benefit from the estate. That provision is not stated in the 2014 will.
“You can take your will and leave it on the kitchen counter. It’s still your will,” Charles McKelvie told the jury, per the Associated Press.
White’s attorney, Kurt Olson, said that since the 2010 letter was under lock and key, it was more important than the will found in the couch.
“We were here to see what the jury would rule. We’ll live with it,” Olson said after the verdict.
However, the jury ruled in favor of the 2014 will.
“I’m very, very happy. I just wanted my mother’s wishes to be adhered to,” said Kecalf, according to the Associated Press. “We just want to exhale right now. It’s been a long five years for my family, my children.”