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Note found under Aretha Franklin’s sofa is legal will, jury rules

todayAugust 12, 2023 3

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Note found under Aretha Franklin’s sofa is legal will, jury rules

A handwritten note found underneath the sofa of the late soul singer Aretha Franklin can be used as her legal last will and testament, a jury has ruled.

The decision was the latest turn in a dispute that has pitted her sons against each other, after Franklin died leaving no formal will behind.

Two separate handwritten notes were discovered by Franklin’s niece following her death – one dated 2010 and one dated 2014 – which named different sons as executors to her estate.

The note from 2010 was discovered in a locked cabinet at the late singer’s home, which named Ted White II as the executor. Meanwhile, the document from 2014 was discovered under a cushion on the sofa, and saw Ted White II’s name crossed out, and Kecalf Franklin named in his place.

According to that document, Kecalf and grandchildren would inherit her main home, which was valued at $1.1m (£850,000) when she died but is worth much more today.

It took less than an hour for the jury in Michigan to deliberate in favour of Kecalf and his brother Edward.

Kecalf said: “I’m very, very happy. I just wanted my mother’s wishes to be adhered to.

“We just want to exhale right now. It’s been a long five years for my family, my children.”

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Attorney Craig Smith highlights words on an enlarged 2014 document during closing arguments on the second day of a jury trial over Aretha Franklin's wills at Oakland County Probate Court in Pontiac, Mich., on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. A document handwritten by singer Aretha Franklin and found in her couch after her 2018 death is a valid Michigan will, a jury said Tuesday. (Sarahbeth Maney/Detroit Free Press via AP)

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A lawyer examining one of the notes at the centre of the trial. Pic: AP

Both notes, while different, said that all four of her sons would share money made from royalties and copyright.

The managers of Franklin’s estate have been settling tax debts and attempting to generate money from music royalties and other intellectual property, with the dispute over the will being largely unfinished business.

The older document had stated Kecalf and Edward “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” before they could benefit from the estate – a provision removed from the 2014 note.

Kecalf Franklin, son of music superstar Aretha Franklin leaves a court hearing with his son Jordan, from left, daughter Grace, wife Kafi and daughter Victorie, Tuesday, July 11, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich. A document handwritten by singer Aretha Franklin and found in her couch after her 2018 death is a valid Michigan will, a jury said Tuesday, a critical turn in a dispute that has turned her sons against each other. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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Kecalf Franklin and his family following the trial. Pic: AP

During the brief court case, Ted White II argued against the 2014 will, saying “with all the time I spent working with her administratively … every other document that she ever signed was something that was done conventionally and legally” – and with assistance from a lawyer,

Denying a rift with his brother, Kecalf told reporters: “I love my brother with all my heart.”

Written by: Newsroom

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