Five years after her death, the final wishes of music superstar Aretha Franklin are still unsettled.
The latest: An unusual trial on Monday to determine which handwritten will, including one found in couch cushions, will guide how her estate is handled.
The Queen of Soul, who had four sons, didn’t have a formal, typewritten will in place, despite years of health problems and efforts to get one done. But under Michigan law, it’s still possible to treat other documents — with scribbles, scratch-outs and hard-to-read passages — as her commands.
The dispute is pitting a son against other sons. Ted White II believes papers dated in 2010 should mainly control the estate while Kecalf (KELF’) Franklin and Edward Franklin favor a 2014 document. Both were discovered in Aretha Franklin’s suburban Detroit home, months following her death from pancreatic cancer in 2018 at age 76.
“Does it surprise me that someone passed away before they got their ducks in a row? And the answer is: Never,” said Pat Simasko, who specializes in wills and estates and teaches elder law at Michigan State University College of Law.
The trial is to take place in Pontiac, Michigan.