Real Time Web Analytics

Friday, May 24, 2019

Multiple handwritten wills found for Aretha Franklin and I'm upset with her sons

There has been a new development in the estate of the late Aretha Franklin: a few days ago, three hand-written wills were found in her home. The story has been carried in numerous papers around the world, but I read the one at (mostly because I detest having to fight my way through dozens of aggressive ads just to find the story). You can read the report here.

Something in the report really stood out to me. The sentence I'm referring to says, "...the wills had been shared with Franklin's four sons or their lawyers, but they had not reached a deal on whether any of them should be considered valid."

What? Reaching a deal on whether the wills are valid?

This upsets me more than I can say. It is NOT up to her children to decide if any given will is valid or not. And they certainly do NOT have the authority to make a "deal" about that! A will is valid or not valid whether any given individual likes it or not. Who are they to decide which will, if any, to "accept"?

It's one thing to have a genuine concern about a will and to try to prevent a fraudulent will or one that was made under coercion from going through the courts. That is a necessary and important safeguard for testators and beneficiaries alike. It's quite another thing to block ALL wills and simply say that your wishes are more important than the testator's intentions, than the rights of any beneficiaries under those wills, or even than the court system itself.

The greed and self-interest of some people continues to flabbergast me, even after all this time.

The attached photo of Aretha Franklin accompanied the article in and is credited to Reuters.


  1. What? Reaching a deal on whether the wills are valid? [LB]

    "Let's Make A 'Wills'Deal"? Idea for a new TV series.

    It is also curious that she did not file a 'proper' will with her lawyer. Surely he must have made her aware of the importance of such a will considering she had 4 sons. Her net worth? It would be interesting to see all the 'wills' and the changes she made. I suspect there is family disharmony over the years. IMO the final 'will' if found to be valid should stand.

    AF IMO, does not want to finalize, commit because she is not sure she is doing the right thing. Perhaps much remains unsettled in her life, esp with her 4 sons. Perhaps we will get to know more. Sadly, another Estate mess that could have been avoided.

    It is often recommended that parents discuss their plans with their children but that does not always work for many reasons. I can well imagine such a discussion with AF and her 4 boys. When it comes to brotherly love, often money and greed come first.

    1. I saw a couple of photos of what the press is calling "handwritten wills". In particular, I saw one that wasn't much more than a scribble of notes, with arrows and crossing-out, etc. To me that looked more like someone organizing her thoughts in preparation of making a will, rather than an actual will itself.


  2. It's a shame high schools are not required to teach a primer on basic legal matters and common courtesy.

    Without knowing better or investigating, it seems some who are named beneficiaries to an estate, believe they as beneficiaries have full control over how the estate is to be settled and distributed, regardless of what the will says.

    If there is one positive in the Franklin matter, it is the 3 holograph wills are now public knowledge and can no longer be hidden, discarded or denied.

    I suspect there are too many estates in which the testator's relations in locating multiple will versions, will pick and choose the version they like the most and discard the others or all of them, without the executor or anyone else necessarily knowing.

    1. You're absolutely right about that, Mark. I've actually had people's kids come to my office with a will they don't like and ask me whether they "have to" admit it exists, and what will happen if they don't. There really does have to be better control over how the whole wills system works, but those changes won't come about in my lifetime.


  3. This will shed a bit more light on this matter..also includes a copy of a hand written 'will' that is difficult to read.


You might also like

Related Posts with Thumbnails