UNITED STATES NEWS

Jury decides 2014 document found in Aretha Franklin’s couch is a valid will

Jul 11, 2023, 11:33 AM | Updated: 2:36 pm

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A document handwritten by singer Aretha Franklin and found in her couch after her 2018 death is a valid Michigan will, a jury said Tuesday, a critical turn in a dispute that has turned her sons against each other.

It’s a victory for Kecalf Franklin and Edward Franklin whose lawyers had argued that papers dated 2014 should override a 2010 will that was discovered around the same time in a locked cabinet at the Queen of Soul’s home in suburban Detroit.

The jury deliberated less than an hour after a brief trial that started Monday. After the verdict was read, Aretha Franklin’s grandchildren stepped forward from the first row to hug Kecalf and Edward.

“I’m very, very happy. I just wanted my mother’s wishes to be adhered to,” Kecalf Franklin said. “We just want to exhale right now. It’s been a long five years for my family, my children.”

Aretha Franklin was a global star for decades, known especially for hits like “Think,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Respect.” She did not leave behind a formal, typewritten will when she died five years ago at age 76.

But documents, with scribbles and hard-to-decipher passages, emerged in 2019 when a niece scoured the home for records.

In closing arguments, lawyers for Kecalf and Edward Franklin said the fact that the 2014 papers were found in a notebook in couch cushions did not make them less significant.

“You can take your will and leave it on the kitchen counter. It’s still your will,” Charles McKelvie told the jury.

Another lawyer, Craig Smith, pointed to the first line of the document, which was displayed on four large posters in front of the jury.

“Says right here: ‘This is my will.’ She’s speaking from the grave, folks,” Smith said of Franklin.

Kecalf and Edward had teamed up against brother Ted White II, who favored the 2010 will. White’s attorney, Kurt Olson, noted the earlier will was under lock and key. He said it was much more important than papers found in a couch.

“We were here to see what the jury would rule. We’ll live with it,” Olson said after the verdict.

The jury found that the 2014 version was signed by Aretha Franklin, who put a smiley face in the letter ‘A.’

There still will be discussions over whether some provisions of the 2010 will should be fulfilled and whether Kecalf Franklin could become executor of the estate. Judge Jennifer Callaghan told all sides to file briefs and attend a status conference next week.

Franklin’s estate managers have been paying bills, settling millions in tax debts and generating income through music royalties and other intellectual property. The will dispute, however, has been unfinished business.

There are differences between the 2010 and 2014 versions, though they both appear to indicate that Franklin’s four sons would share income from music and copyrights.

But under the 2014 will, Kecalf Franklin and grandchildren would get his mother’s main home in Bloomfield Hills, which was valued at $1.1 million when she died but is worth much more today.

The older will said Kecalf, 53, and Edward Franklin, 64, “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree” to benefit from the estate. That provision is not in the 2014 version.

White, who played guitar with Aretha Franklin, testified against the 2014 will, saying his mother typically would get important documents done “conventionally and legally” and with assistance from an attorney. He did not immediately comment after the verdict.

The sharpest remarks of the trial came from Smith, who represented Edward Franklin. He told the jury White “wants to disinherit his two brothers. Teddy wants it all.”

Kecalf Franklin sat near White during the trial but they did not appear to speak to each other.

“I love my brother with all my heart,” Kecalf said outside court when asked if there was a rift.

Aretha Franklin’s other son, Clarence Franklin, lives under guardianship in an assisted living center and did not participate in the trial.

___

Follow Ed White on Twitter at http://twitter.com/edwritez

United States News

Associated Press

Latest deadly weather in US kills at least 18 as storms carve path of ruin across multiple states

VALLEY VIEW, Texas (AP) — Powerful storms killed at least 18 people, injured hundreds and left a wide trail of destruction across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas after obliterating homes and destroying a truck stop where dozens sought shelter in a restroom during the latest deadly weather to strike the central U.S. The storms inflicted their […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: World shares are mostly higher after rebound on Wall St

Shares advanced in Europe and Asia ahead of Monday’s Memorial Day holiday in the United States. Oil prices also rose. European shares saw modest gains after the opening while Asian benchmarks gained upward momentum as the day wore on. Germany’s DAX edged 0.1% higher to 18,713.43 and the CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.2% to […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Lightning strike kills Colorado rancher and 34 head of cattle

DENVER (AP) — A lightning strike killed a Colorado rancher and 34 head of cattle over the weekend, officials said Sunday. Mike Morgan, 51, was feeding his cattle from a trailer when he was struck and died on the scene despite life-saving efforts, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said. The lightning bolt struck on wide […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Former ‘General Hospital’ actor Johnny Wactor killed in downtown Los Angeles shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former “General Hospital” actor Johnny Wactor was shot and killed when he interrupted thieves stealing the catalytic converter from his car in Los Angeles, his family said Sunday. The shooting occurred around 3 a.m. Saturday when the victim approached three men in downtown LA, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. […]

10 hours ago

Michael Cohen leaves his apartment building on his way to Manhattan criminal court to testify in Do...

Associated Press

Here’s what every key witness said at Donald Trump’s hush money trial

Testimony is over at Trump’s criminal trial featuring 22 witnesses, including a porn actor, tabloid publisher and White House insiders.

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Christian group temporarily opens beaches it has closed on Sunday mornings as court fight plays out

OCEAN GROVE, N.J. (AP) — For the first time in generations, beachgoers were out on the sand in a New Jersey shore community on the Sunday morning before Memorial Day as a Christian religious group fights the state over its regular beach closures there during Sunday services. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist […]

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Jury decides 2014 document found in Aretha Franklin’s couch is a valid will