UPDATE 07/12/2023: A Michigan jury has decided that a handwritten note from the Queen of Soul herself is a valid will, thus settling an ongoing legal battle dating back five years between her sons. Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul, passed away in 2018 at the age of 76. Despite being a global superstar for decades, she did not leave behind a formal, typewritten will. Instead, documents with scribbles and hard-to-decipher passages were discovered in 2019.
The dispute pitted her sons against one another, with Ted White II favoring a 2010 document and Kecalf Franklin and Edward Franklin preferring a 2014 version. The jury deliberated for less than an hour after a brief trial on Monday July 10, 2023.
After the verdict was read, Franklins’ grandchildren reportedly rushed forward to hug Edward and Kecalf. “I’m very, very happy. I just wanted my mother’s wishes to be adhered to,” Kecalf Franklin said. “We just want to exhale right now. It’s been a long five years for my family, my children.”
The 2014 will grants Kecalf and Franklin’s grandchildren her main home in Bloomfield Hills, which was valued at $1.1 million when she died but is worth much more today. The earlier will, however, stipulated that Kecalf and Edward “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” to benefit from the estate.
The will dispute has been unfinished business for Franklin’s estate managers, who have been settling millions in tax debts and generating income through music royalties and other intellectual property.
ORGINAL ARTICLE: Two opposing, handwritten wills have been linked back to singer, Aretha Franklin. One was dated for 2010 and the other for 2014. Both were littered with cross-outs, notes, and revisions.
Franklin had four sons: Clarence, Ted, Kecalf, and Edward. The 2010 will specified Ted White and her niece, Sabrina Owens, as co-executors, and left room for Kecalf and Edward to enter the fray, should they “take business classes and get a certificate or a degree”.
The 2014 will removes Ted’s name entirely, while placing Kecalf and Edward as co-executors. It also designated Kecalf and his descendants as inheritors to her main estate, which was valued at the time of her death at $1.1 million, but has steadily increased value.
Unsurprisingly, Ted favors the earlier edition, while Kecalf and Edward favor the latter. Both versions of the will took special care to ensure that eldest son, Clarence, receives ongoing support. Clarence is currently under a conservatorship.
This story will be updated as developments occur.