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Famed deceased pop star’s written documents roil estate waters

| May 28, 2019 | Estate Litigation |

It all seemed relatively clear for a few months. A recent discovery has all but obliterated that clarity, though, and spawned developments that spell future cloudiness rather than transparency.

We spotlight in today’s blog post the continuing drama surrounding acknowledged Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who mightily strode a world stage for decades as a renowned vocalist and musical artist.

We last left off with the now deceased diva – Franklin died in mid-August of last year – in an August 27, 2018, blog entry. We noted news report that the famed songstress “allegedly died without leaving a will.”

It now turns out that those reports might have been premature. In a dramatic twist of events, multiple documents handwritten by Franklin regarding estate affairs were recently discovered throughout her home. A New York Times article addressing the discovery stresses that the “scrawled documents” might ultimately be adjudged as valid wills.

But maybe not. A Michigan judge is slated to determine their fate at an upcoming hearing on June 17.

Suffice to say that the Franklin estate waters have turned muddy. There was reportedly overall agreement among the heirs – her four adult sons – that they would share their mother’s estate equally pursuant to intestate (no will) laws. Disagreement has already arisen since the emergence of the new writings, though. Reportedly, the sons are now in vying factions, with one bloc supporting the view that the handwritten documents comprise a valid will. The other side contests that interpretation.

As the Times notes, Franklin’s case prominently spotlights “the complications faced by the estates of celebrities who leave no will.” Those include Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and many others.

We will keep readers timely informed of any material updates that develop concerning the Franklin discovery. The matter is unquestionably instructive in the sense that it underscores the need for virtually any estate planner to timely consult with proven legal counsel.

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