Aretha Franklin performs during "The Gospel Tradition: In Performance at the White House" in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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Following the passing of Aretha Franklin in August of 2018, her relatives believed that the Queen of Soul had not left a proper will and that her assets would and should be divided equally between her four sons, Clarence, Kecalf and Edward Franklin, and Ted White Jr.
However, in May 2019, two handwritten documents, neither of which were traditionally executed by an attorney, were discovered in the iconic musicians Detroit home, one found in a locked cabinet, dated 2010, and the second, dated 2014, was found in a spiral notebook wedged underneath a sofa cushion.
According to the New York Times, on Tuesday (7.11,) following a two-day trial and four plus years of family conflict, six jurors at a probate court in Pontiac, Michigan ruled that Franklin’s 2014 document should serve as her official will.
Two notable differences between the documents involved the 2010 will which stipulated that Kecalf and Edward “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” in order to benefit from the estate while the 2014 will did not.
In the will now ruled as admissible, Franklin declared that her music royalties and bank funds would be split evenly between her three sons – excluding Clarence – while her youngest child Kecalf would inherit her gated mansion in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Kecalf and Edward argued in favor of the latest document, insisting it negated the earlier one, while their half-brother Ted believed it did not and argued that the 2010 will was longer, more detailed, and featured Franklin’s signature on every page.
According to BBC News, Kecalf told reporters outside the courthouse, “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.”
Addressing the conflict with Ted, he added, “I love my brother with all my heart.”
The Respect singer’s eldest child Clarence, who has a mental illness, was not involved in the dispute. In a pre-trial agreement reached by the brothers and Clarence’s guardian, he will receive an undisclosed percentage of the estate.