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Verdict Validates Handwritten Couch Cushion Will in Aretha Franklin Estate Battle


In a captivating courtroom battle over the late music icon Aretha Franklin’s estate, a jury has determined that the handwritten documents discovered hidden in her couch after her passing in 2018 are legally valid as her last will and testament. The verdict has sparked intense discussions as Franklin’s sons engage in a contentious dispute over the division of her estimated $6 million estate.

The trial revolved around two conflicting wills: one from 2010 and another from 2014, both of which were handwritten. While Aretha Franklin had not prepared a formal, typewritten will, Michigan law permits other documents, even those with scribbles and amendments, to be recognized as valid representations of her final wishes.

The courtroom drama pitted one of Franklin’s sons, Ted White II, against two of his siblings, Kecalf Franklin and Edward Franklin. White asserted that the 2010 papers should take precedence in guiding the estate’s distribution, while Kecalf and Edward favored the 2014 document. The battle over their mother’s legacy grew increasingly heated as the proceedings unfolded.

Notable differences emerged between the two wills, although both indicated that the sons would share income from Franklin’s music and copyrights. The 2010 will designated White and Owens as co-executors, stipulating that Kecalf and Edward must acquire business education to benefit from the estate. In contrast, the 2014 version crossed out White’s name as executor, replacing him with Kecalf, and omitted any mention of business classes.

The jury’s verdict validating the handwritten documents from the couch cushions has significant implications for the estate’s distribution. However, the specific details of the division and how they align with each son’s desires have not been disclosed publicly.

Throughout the trial, Franklin’s family dynamics and the varying relationships between her sons became apparent. The eldest son, Clarence, who lives under guardianship due to a diagnosed mental illness, was a point of contention. In one of the wills, Aretha Franklin instructed her other sons to regularly support and check in on Clarence’s well-being. However, the 2014 will does not list Clarence as a beneficiary, leading to further complications.

As the legal proceedings captivate the public’s attention, the fate of Aretha Franklin’s $6 million estate remains uncertain. The significance of the jury’s decision validates the authority of the handwritten wills discovered in her couch and sets the stage for potential future appeals or further negotiations among the family members.

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Written by:
Dana Sterling-Editor


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