A new twist has been reported in the death of soul icon Aretha Franklin last August. The singer, who was long thought to have left no will, is now claimed to have left three – one of them under a cushion.
David Bennett, a long-term attorney for the late music legend, said on Monday that three wills, two of them going back to 2010 and one dating back to 2014, have been unearthed at Franklin’s home in Detroit.
All of the documents are hand-written and at least parts of them are borderline unintelligible. Two wills believed to be penned back in 2010 were discovered in a locked cabinet, and the 2014 one was apparently found by accident, under cushions in the living room.
It is unclear why it took Franklin’s family and lawyers so long to find the documents that might set the record straight in the legal matters regarding the $80-million estate of the ‘Say A Little Prayer’ singer, who died at the age of 76 from pancreatic cancer last year. Bennett said that the wills from 2010 were located as soon as a key was found to unlock the cabinet.
While the wills have been uncovered, it’s unclear if any of them will be considered valid in the eyes of the law. Bennett said that Franklin’s sons were made aware of the wills’ existence. The handwritten papers were shown either to them personally, or to their lawyers. However, not everybody is happy with their contents. The wills have faced opposition from at least two of the sons, he said.
Since Franklin’s death, her vast estate has been managed by her niece Sabrina Owens, and a probate court appointed an executor to handle all legal claims, such as paying debts.
While the legal dispute over Franklin’s inheritance might have been kept away from the spotlight, the singer’s youngest son Kecalf Franklin has now filed a lawsuit that he was meant to be appointed a representative of the estate according to the 2014 will. The 48-year-old ‘Christian rapper’ who often performed gigs alongside his mother previously ran into trouble with the law. He served 93 days in jail after police caught him driving under the influence in October last year.
The oldest son, Edward, is embroiled in the litigation with the estate requesting that it provides monthly financial documents to the family. The estate, however, is reluctant to do this, citing an ongoing police investigation into some “property missing” from the house that could be negatively impacted by the financial disclosures. The investigation into potential theft was confirmed by police in January, who said it had been launched before the singer passed away.