Three wills were discovered this month in Aretha Franklin's home, months after her death at age 76

By Rachel DeSantis
May 21, 2019 11:00 AM
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A set of handwritten wills has been discovered in Aretha Franklin’s home, reversing her family’s belief that the Queen of Soul died in August without a plan to divvy up her assets.

Three wills were discovered this month, including one from March 2014 that was found Monday in her living room, David Bennett, an attorney for the singer’s estate, told the Associated Press.

Bennett said the four-page find was discovered inside a spiral notebook under cushions in the singer’s living room, though the handwriting is difficult to read and there are words scratched out and phrases in the margins.

Two of the wills were dated 2010, and were found in a locked cabinet after a key was located, according to the AP.

Bennett, who has been Franklin’s lawyer for more than 40 years, filed the wills Monday and has shared them with attorneys representing Franklin’s four sons, though a resolution was not reached, Franklin’s estate said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

Two of Franklin’s sons object to the wills.

Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty

“[Estate executor and niece Sabrina Owners] remains neutral and wishes that all parties involved make wise choices on behalf of their mother, her rich legacy, the family and the Aretha Franklin estate,” the statement said.

According to the AP, Franklin’s son Kecalf Franklin claimed in a separate court filing that his mother said in her 2014 will that she wanted him to serve as the estate’s representative. Kecalf is against plans to sell a piece of land next to the singer’s Michigan home for $325,000.

RELATED VIDEO: Last Detroit Property Owned By Aretha Franklin Sold by Her Estate for $300,000

Franklin died in August of pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type at age 76, with her family and lawyers saying at the time that she did not have a will.

Aretha Franklin
| Credit: Monica Morgan/WireImage

Don Wilson, a Los Angeles lawyer who worked with Franklin, told the AP in September the “Respect” singer had long brushed aside his advice to set up a will and a trust.

“She never told me, ‘No, I don’t want to do one.’ She understood the need. It just didn’t seem to be something she got around to,” he said.

Court documents obtained by TMZ in August showed that Franklin died “inestate” – without a will.

Bennett filed papers in Michigan’s Oakland County court that confirmed she was not married and had four sons (Clarence Franklin, Edward Franklin, Kecalf Franklin and Ted White Jr.) between the ages of 48 and 63, according to the AP. Michigan law dictates that her sons would split her estate equally.

As for what’s at stake, Kenneth Silver, a shareholder at Hertz Schram law firm in Michigan who was not involved in Franklin’s estate, speculated to PEOPLE about the future of Franklin’s earnings after her death.

Silver said that Franklin most likely left behind a number of assets. “I would expect that she has a house, probably a financial account of some kind — a brokerage account, stocks, bond, cash,” he said. “She probably has investments of a wide variety — perhaps in real estate ventures, other businesses that she may own or have an interest in.”

He continued, “[She may have] copyrights to her songs, perhaps publishing rights to her material, perhaps the material of other artists. And I’m sure she has probably a pretty valuable collection of personal property, things like Grammys, gold records, memorabilia from Motown years and onward.”