Aretha Franklin's handwritten wills cause problems

Famed singer Aretha Franklin is well-known for her vocal work while with Motown Records. Her music has inspired a generation, and it continues to be heard across the world. While her talents continue to be celebrated long after her death, Franklin is also well-known for something else: failing to create an estate plan to deal with the distribution of her assets.

This is no small thing considering the presumed size of the singer's estate. As we discussed previously on the blog, Franklin's estate was destined for probate where legal fees and delays were sure to eat into the estate's value and her loved one's patience. Family member were, and still are, poised to present their cases for why they are entitled to certain portions of the singer's estate.

But the case has taken a recent turn. According to reports, multiple handwritten wills have been discovered in the singer's home, with one of them being found under some seat cushions. Two of the wills date back to 2010 and were found in a locked cabinet. Another one, dated to 2014, was located in Franklin's living room under some cushions. At least one of the wills appears to portray Franklin's desire to leave her estate to her family, but much of the writing is hard to decipher, and the document may not meet the requirements to be deemed a legally valid will.

As a result, there likely won't be any resolution to this matter anytime soon. Sadly, this means that Franklin's family will probably continue to bicker and fight over who has the right to inherit certain pieces of property while the estate's value continues to drain. Those assets will probably be locked up in the probate process, too, so that they will go unused for some time to come.

This case serves as a powerful lesson to Californians who have been putting off estate planning, as well as those who think they can go about the process on their own. When it comes to this matter, there is simply too much at stake for one's estate and his or her loved one's to risk not developing an estate plan or haphazardly doing so. This is why Californians should consider working closely with an estate planning attorney to best ensure that their wishes for their assets are properly documented.

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