Jury Finds Handwritten Document Found Stuffed in Aretha Franklin’s Couch Was Indeed Her Will

by Xara Aziz
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Authorities have confirmed that a four-page 2014 document found stuffed in a couch cushion at her home was written by Aretha Franklin and was indeed her will.

Franklin’s family had fought for nearly four years to decide how to split her estate, taking into consideration that the document was invalid. But on Tuesday, a six-person jury at a Michigan probate court found that the document was her will and her assets should be distributed according to what it entails.

The verdict brings a long battle between family members of the Respect star to an end and now sets a plan in motion to distribute her income and assets from her estate accordingly.

“We just want to exhale right now,” Kecalf Franklin, one of the singer’s sons, said at the courthouse. “It’s been a long five years for my family and my children.”

Franklin died in 2018 at the age of 76. At the time of her passing, her family did not know she had a will, so they went by Michigan law which states that her assets would be divided equally among her four sons: Kecalf Franklin, Edward Franklin, Clarence Franklin and Ted White Jr. The sons collectively chose a cousin to represent the estate, similar to that of an executor.

But when handwritten documents were discovered in Franklin’s home, it divided her children, raising questions about how music royalties and other assets would be dispersed.

The will apportioned Franklin’s assets differently. One part of the will specified that weekly and monthly allowances be given to each of Franklin’s four sons and added that Kecalf and Edward “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” to collect from the estate.

In another part of the will, all of her sons (except Clarence) would get the same shares of the singer’s music royalties. It also stated that Kecalf and his children would get more of her personal property, including receiving his mother’s $1 million home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, her Mercedes-Benz, two Cadillacs and a Thunderbird convertible.

“Yes, there’s nothing that says you can’t keep a will in a spiral notebook in your couch cushion,” Kurt A. Olson, White’s lawyer, said in his opening statement. “The bigger issue here is, what was her intent?”

Meanwhile, White says he and his brothers remain close despite the legal battle they faced against each other.

“We’re as close as three old men can be,” White told a reporter inside the courtroom.

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