Music fans in Minnesota and throughout the country remember superstar Aretha Franklin as “The Queen of Soul.” Since her passing in 2018, her sons have been entangled in a legal battle regarding her last will and testament. The issues surrounding Franklin’s estate are complex, and the probate judge overseeing the case must determine which (if any) of several documents constitute the singer’s final wishes in a legally enforceable document.
Various people have claimed that certain documents are the legitimate last will and testament executed by Aretha Franklin. At least two are holographic, meaning written in her own hand. One document was apparently drafted with the help of an attorney; however, Franklin died before signing it. This document was the central focus of recent court hearings, where voicemails reportedly made by Franklin were played in court, stating amendments she wanted to make regarding her estate plan.
3 of Franklin’s 4 sons were present for probate litigation
Three of Franklin’s sons were present in court as the judge worked to determine which will is valid or whether all documents that have been produced fail to meet the requirements to be valid in Michigan, which has jurisdiction in this case. The attorney who helped Franklin with the most recent document has testified that she may have lacked testamentary capacity (soundness of mind) to execute a will. One of her sons, who confirmed that the recorded messages contain his mother’s voice, noted that she began her message by stating that she was not declaring her last will and testament but wanted to meet with her attorney to discuss the matter.
Probate support is available in Minnesota for those facing similar issues
The probate judge in Franklin’s case will ultimately determine if any of the submitted documents constitute a valid last will and testament, as well as how the late singer’s assets will be distributed. Anyone in Minnesota who is considering probate litigation (such as contesting a will) may want to consult with an experienced estate law attorney before heading to court. The attorney can help work toward achieving the best outcome.