Aretha Franklin performs onstage at The Fox Theatre on November 8, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Aretha Franklin performs onstage at The Fox Theatre on November 8, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images.

A Handwritten Note Found in Aretha Franklin's Couch Will Be Considered a Legal Will

A Michigan jury has ruled that a 2014 will found in the couch of Aretha Franklin, that has been a source of contention over the late soul legend's estate, is valid.

A family battle over a will written by late soul legend Aretha Franklin has ended. On Tuesday (July 11), reports publicized that a handwritten document, found beneath a cushion of Franklin’s couch, is a valid Michigan will. Two documents found in a cabinet and couch of Franklin’s home in Detroit, Michigan caused a divide within the singer’s family since 2018, the same year of her death at 76.

Winning the legal dispute are Franklin’s second oldest and youngest sons, Edward and Kecalf, whose lawyers claimed that the will dated 2014 should overrule the 2010 will found in Franklin’s locked cabinet. Franklin’s third oldest child, Ted White II and niece, Sabrina Owens, were named co-executors or personal representatives to the estate in the 2010 will. Owens left the position in 2020 due to conflict within the family.

“Given my aunt’s love of family and desire for privacy, this is not what she would have wanted for us, nor is it what I want,” Owens wrote in a letter filed to the Detroit court. “I love my cousins, hold no animosity towards them, and wish them the best.”

While both the 2010 and 2014 will say that Franklin’s sons would share income from music and copyrights, the latter details that Kecalf and his grandchildren would receive Franklin’s Bloomfield Hills home. Valued at $1.1 million upon Franklin’s death, the residence is now worth more. The older version of the will said that Edward and Kecalf were to take “business classes and get a certificate or a degree,” to benefit from the estate.

White contested the 2014 will, claiming that Franklin would file important documents “conventionally and legally,” along with receiving assistance from a lawyer.