By Allison L. Byrd, Morgan & DiSalvo, P.C.
In early May 2019, three hand-written (“holographic”) wills purportedly written by Aretha Franklin were found in the late vocalist’s home. The wills were discovered by Sabrina Owens, the personal representative of Ms. Franklin’s estate. Two of the wills (dated June 21, 2010 and October 20, 2010) were found in a locked cabinet, and the third will (dated March 31, 2014) was found in a binder tucked under a couch cushion in Ms. Franklin’s living room, according to a court filing. The wills have since been filed with the probate court in Oakland County, Michigan by an attorney representing the estate. Michigan law recognizes a holographic will as valid “if it is dated, and if the testator’s signature and the document’s material portions are in the testator’s handwriting.” Michigan Compiled Laws, Section 700.2502. Though the wills are dated and signed, it is not clear whether the provisions of the wills are in Franklin’s handwriting, and interpreting the writing could be complicated by the presence of many scratched-out phrases and margin notes. The wills have reportedly been shared with Franklin’s four sons, though two of the sons are contesting the wills. A hearing is currently scheduled for June 12, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. in the Oakland County Probate Court.
To read more about how it was originally thought that Franklin reportedly died without a will or trust in place to guide the disposition of her massive estate, please click here.
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