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A jury rules a handwritten will found under Aretha Franklin's couch cushion is valid

Kecalf Franklin, a son of music superstar Aretha Franklin leaves a court hearing with his family on Tuesday 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.
Carlos Osorio
/
AP
Kecalf Franklin, a son of music superstar Aretha Franklin leaves a court hearing with his family on Tuesday 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.

A jury in Michigan has ruled that a note handwritten by the late soul singer Aretha Franklin is valid as her will, according to The Associated Press.

In 2019, Franklin's niece found three handwritten documents around the singer's home in suburban Detroit. One, dated 2014, was found underneath a couch cushion.

Two of Franklin's sons, Kecalf and Edward Franklin, argued through their lawyers that they wanted the latter note to override a separate will written in 2010. The opposing party was their brother, Ted White II, whose lawyer argued that the 2010 will should stand because it was found under lock and key in Aretha Franklin's home.

The most recent will stipulates that Kecalf as well as Aretha Franklin's grandchildren would be entitled to her home in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The 2010 will says her sons would need to get a certificate or degree in business before becoming entitled to her estate, but it does not say that in the 2014 version, according to the AP.

Both versions of the will allow her four sons to benefit from music royalties and copyrights. Aretha Franklin's fourth son, Clarence Franklin, lives in an assisted living facility and was not present at the trial, the AP reported.

Though many of the documents were hard to read at times, the jury concluded that the 2014 note had her name signed at the bottom, with a smiley face written inside the letter "A," the AP said.

Franklin, crowned the "Queen of Soul" for hits such as "Respect," "Chain of Fools" and "Day Dreaming," died in 2018 at age 76 from pancreatic cancer.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie
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