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It seems Aretha Franklin did have wills, unlike most Americans

On Behalf of | May 23, 2019 | Probate Litigation |

Three wills apparently written by Aretha Franklin have been discovered in her suburban Detroit home.

When Franklin died in August, she was believed to have left no will, a fact that lingered in the background as she was memorialized in the national media.

Validity of wills not her top priority

If found to be valid by the Oakland County, Michigan, probate court, the wills might help their ongoing struggle to decided what should happen to Franklin’s estate.

But establishing their validity may be a struggle all its own.

The wills are outdated, with the most recent having been written over four years before Franklin’s death.

They are holographic (handwritten) in sometimes near-indecipherable strokes with many scratched-out words and marginal notes. There are some comments seemingly meant in jest. One document was part of a spiral notebook stuffed under a couch cushion.

Most Americans have no will at all

Since her death, it’s been hard for some to believe the fate of Franklin’s $80 million estate could go unplanned.

Her assets aside, the performer’s extraordinary stature made such neglect unimaginable.

The first female inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the 18-time Grammy winner is best known for her culturally important recordings of “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” and “Natural Woman.” She sang at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral and was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

It would be interesting to know how many of those in this state of disbelief will themselves die intestate, that is, without a will of their own.

A 2016 Gallup poll suggested only 44 percent of Americans have wills. Only 14 percent between the ages of 18 to 29 years have a will, a bracket that includes the ages of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse at the time of their deaths while intestate.