After Aretha Franklin’s death on August 16, 2018, in Detroit, it was discovered that the Grammy-winning singer had left no Will or trust. Her large estate is estimated to be worth $80 million.
Franklin’s family shows interest
Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at age 76. On August 21, 2018, Franklin’s four sons made a court filing showing their interest in their late mother’s estate. The documents indicated that there was no Will to which the sons could refer. Franklin’s niece apparently asked the court to assign her as the personal representative for the estate, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Franklin’s long-time attorney Don Wilson indicated that, while he handled copyright and ownership issues for her during her lifetime, they had never created a Will despite his urging her to do so later in her life. The singer had been struggling with cancer for several years, and it’s unclear why she wouldn’t have taken her lawyer’s advice.
Wilson said that a Will would have avoided making public the amount of money she had in her estate, which she was always fairly private about. A Will would have also prevented having to create a probate estate.
Because the singer kept ownership of some of her biggest musical hits, it’s difficult to say exactly how much her song catalogue will be worth in the end, as her lawyer pointed out.
How is the estate likely to be divided?
Under Michigan law, the state in which Franklin passed away, the singer’s assets would be given to her children, and the court would appoint an executor to manage everything. Since she had no Will she’s considered to have died intestate. When there’s no surviving spouse, the assets in the probate estate must be split equally among any living children.
Even though the law is fairly straightforward, Franklin’s lawyer indicated that there’s usually some kind of argument when no Will or trust is left for such a large amount of money.
All the details of the estate and Franklin’s net worth are likely to be released into the public as the Oakland County Probate Court decides how to handle the situation.
If you feel that you’re in a position to contest a Will, get in touch with our experienced team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers. We can assist you in filing a claim and helping you get the compensation you deserve.