Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Aretha Franklin’s Handwritten Will Discovered in Couch Cushions

Aretha Franklin’s Handwritten Will Discovered in Couch Cushions

When the legendary singer Aretha Franklin passed away in 2018, it was thought she had no will despite her net worth of $80 Million. Following her demise at the age of 78 due to pancreatic cancer, a legal dispute ensued in the absence of an initially recovered will. However, Sabrina Owens, her niece and the executor of the estate, made a remarkable discovery at Franklin’s Detroit home nine months later. According to the BBC, it was two sets of handwritten documents.

The version Owens stumbled upon, dated back to 2010, has been rendered obsolete by a recently unearthed will from 2014. Surprisingly, the newer will was discovered wedged between the cushions of a couch. Following a recent court ruling on the conflicting documents, ownership of her former homes was granted to her sons.

Judge Jennifer Callaghan delivered her decision four months after a Detroit-area jury confirmed the validity of the document. In 2014, Franklin signed the will with a signature that included a smiley face inside the letter “A.” This will supersedes a handwritten will from 2010, which was discovered at Franklin’s Detroit home in 2019, as stated by the presiding judge.

Aretha Franklin’s Will Dictates Who Receives Her Detroit Mansion

The 2014 document indicates that the “Respect” singer desired her youngest son to inherit her estate. As part of their inheritance, Kecalf and his children are set to receive Franklin’s luxurious gated mansion in suburban Detroit. This stunning property, initially valued at $1.1 million in 2018, is considered the highlight of her real estate portfolio.

Ted White II, the son who preferred the 2010 will, was granted a separate property in Detroit, even though it had already been sold for $300,000 before the conflicting wills came to light. On Tuesday, his attorney stated that he is pursuing the proceeds from the sale.

Judge Callaghan granted Edward Franklin, the third son, an additional property according to the 2014 will. However, the fate of Franklin’s fourth home, valued at over $1 million, is yet to be determined. The judge noted that the 2014 will did not specify the intended recipient.

Both documents expressed Franklin’s intention for her four sons to share the income from her music and copyrights. However, there were inconsistencies. The 2014 will indicated that Kecalf would inherit the $1.1 million home, while the 2010 will distributed the assets more evenly among all her heirs.

During the trial, Kecalf testified that his mother often conducted business while seated on the couch. This adds credibility to the possibility of finding a will there. Ultimately, the jury sided with the 2014 will, deeming it superior to the 2010 document. As part of a pre-trial agreement, Franklin’s eldest child, Clarence, who was not involved in the dispute, will receive an undisclosed portion of the estate.

There is an ongoing dispute regarding the management of Franklin’s music assets. A status conference has been scheduled with the judge in January to address the matter.