Aretha Franklin’s 2014 Will Found in Couch Awards Sons Her Real Estate

Aretha Franklin’s 2014 Will Found in Couch Awards Sons Her Real Estate

Four months after a jury said that Aretha Franklin‘s 2014 handwritten will found between couch cushions was deemed valid, three of her sons were awarded properties worth more than a million dollars.

According to The Associated Press, one of the late singer’s sons, Kecalf Franklin, was awarded a property valued at $1.1 million. That valuation came in 2018, and the property is now worth more. A second son, Ted White II, was awarded a home in Detroit, which was sold by the estate for $300,000. A family attorney says “Teddy is requesting the sale proceeds.”

A third son, Edward Franklin, was awarded another property under the 2014 will. Aretha had four homes when she died of pancreatic cancer in 2018. She was 76. The fourth property is now worth more than $1 million and The Associated Press reports it will likely be sold and the proceeds will be shared by Aretha’s four sons. As to why that home was not awarded to one of the sons, the judge said that the 2014 handwritten will did not clearly state who should get the home.

The judge’s decision to award the real estate comes after it had been reported in July that a jury at the Oakland County Probate Court determined that a document that was found in the couch of the star’s home will stand as the record of the estate, as it was signed by the late artist and shows her intent. 

The 2014 handwritten document favored Kecalf and Edward. Ted had argued that a handwritten will from 2010 — which was found in a cabinet and favors him — should have controlled her estate. Kecalf and Edward successfully argued that the 2014 handwritten document should be the final say. 

The “Respect” singer’s oldest son, Clarence Franklin, who has mental illness, is under legal guardianship and has reached a settlement for an undisclosed percentage of the estate. As a result, he did not pick sides during the legal battle. 

According to CBS News, in March, a public accounting record showed that the estate had an income of $3.9 million during a previous 12-month period and had $900,000 in legal fees. The assets were estimated at $4.1 million and were mostly cash and real estate. The GRAMMY-winning singer’s creative works and intellectual property were reportedly undervalued at $1. 

Sabrina Owens, Aretha’s niece, and the person who originally found the wills, served as the singer’s personal representative, but resigned due to a rift within the family. The position is now held by Nicholas E. Papasifakis, a Michigan estate lawyer, who did not take sides in the dispute.

Following the conclusion of the trial, other matters such as tribute concerts and biopics (similar to Respect starring Jennifer Hudson) would require a universal agreement from the family, unless a business manager is determined to make the decisions. As for her music assets, the will seems to indicate that the sons would share any income.

A status hearing with the judge is slated for January.



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