Secret Wills of Aretha Franklin discovered

Published 27 May 2019

The alleged secret Wills of late soul superstar Aretha Franklin have been discovered. It was previously thought that the singer passed intestate.

A question of inheritance

Franklin, who passed in August 2018 from a pancreatic tumour, was said to have had an estate worth around US $80 million. Despite this substantial estate, it was reported that there was no Will in place. As Franklin was from Michigan, the local laws dictated that her children would receive an equal share of her estate. However, with the discovery of the hidden Wills on May 20, many questions of inheritance are raised.

Allegedly, the Wills were found in various places around Franklin’s Detroit home, including under a cushion in her lounge. The Wills themselves are said to be dated from 2010 and 2014 respectively, written in handwriting that is difficult to decipher. Franklin’s legal team are said to be in talks with local courts to determine the validity of the Wills, and the subsequent actions to take.

What happens if there are multiple Wills?

In New South Wales if you die with multiple Wills in place, they are invalidated. There are plenty of different circumstances why someone may have many revisions of a Will, such as failing to destroy previous copies, or simple indecisiveness. Regardless, in the case of multiple Wills, a Court will need to investigate the circumstances around the revisions and what uncertainty was involved.

This may include analysing the medical history of the deceased in order to determine whether they were of sound testamentary capacity when they had made the revisions, or if it had been forced by someone looking to benefit from the estate. If the Court rules that the most recent copy of a Will is invalid, then they will then use the previous iteration as the basis of dividing the estate.

If you wish to contest this division of estate, you’ll first need to ensure you meet the criteria of eligible persons under the Family Provisions Act 1982 (NSW), including:

  • Former spouses of the deceased.
  • Children of the deceased.
  • A grandchild of the deceased.
  • Someone who had been a dependent of the deceased.
  • A person who had lived in a household of which the deceased was a member.

Once the aforementioned criteria is confirmed, the Court will then need to determine whether the deceased had a moral obligation to look after you after their passing, either for the advancement of your education or future, or simply to provide quality of life.

If you’re looking to contest the division of an estate, reach out to the experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Disputes Lawyers to assist with your claim.

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