Nearly a week after her death, reports are emerging that legendary musician Aretha Franklin left no will.
Detroit Free Press reported that, although Franklin was very private about her personal life, the details of her finances will soon be public because she left no trust or will behind.
Franklin’s four sons -- Ted White Jr., Kecalf Cunningham, Clarence Franklin and Edward Franklin -- filed a document Tuesday in Oakland County Probate Court listing themselves as interested parties in her estate. Under Michigan law, the assets of an unmarried person who dies without a will are divided equally among the deceased’s children, Freep reported. One document filed and signed by Kecalf and Franklin’s estate attorney David Bennett has a checked box that indicates there is no will.
“The decedent died intestate and after exercising reasonable diligence, I am unaware of any unrevoked testamentary instrument relating to property located in this state as defined,” the document said.
It is not clear what the dollar value is of Franklin’s song catalog, Los Angeles attorney Don Wilson said. Wilson has worked with Franklin on entertainment matters for the last 28 years. He said Franklin retained ownership of her original compositions, such as “Rock Steady” and “Think.”
“I was after her for a number of years to do a trust,” Wilson said. “It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate, and kept things private.”
Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece, asked the court to appoint her as the personal representative of the estate.
“I just hope it doesn’t end up getting so hotly contested. Any time they don't leave a trust or will, there always ends up being a fight.”
Franklin died of advanced pancreatic cancer Aug. 16. She will be buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, where Rev. Franklin, her brother Cecil Franklin; sisters Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin; and nephew, Thomas Garrett are entombed. After public viewings of her body, a private funeral will be held Aug. 31 at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.
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