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‘They Bout to Run Through That Money’: Jury Agrees to Uphold Aretha Franklin’s 2014 Handwritten Will Found In Sofa, Allowing Two of Her Sons to Forgo Business Classes to Gain Access to Her Estate

A decision has been made to uphold an unofficial version of Aretha Franklin’s will after a years-long battle between her children.

The soul singer was the mother of four sons: Clarence and Edward Franklin, Teddy White II, and Kecalf Franklin. The latter three have been at odds over two wills found months after she passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2018.

Aretha Franklin Reportedly Left $1M in Uncashed Checks at the Time of Her Death
Aretha Franklin reportedly had $1 million in uncashed checks found. (Photo: Charles Eshelman / FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Clarence, the eldest, has special needs and is under a legal guardianship. He is not listed in the legal drama that has opened a rift between his siblings. Since the “Respect” singer’s death, Sabrina Owens, her niece, has acted as the executor of the estate, which has an estimated valuation of $4.1 million.

Two versions of Aretha’s will were found in her Detroit home five years ago. One was located in a locked cabinet and dated 2010, and a second was handwritten and placed in a notebook that was found in between couch cushions and dated 2014.

The older will named White and Owens as executors of her estate. It also stated that her sons Kecalf and Edward Franklin “must take business classes and get a certificate or a degree.”

The 2014 will, however, named Kecalf as the estate’s overseer. He is awarded her Bloomfield, Illinois, home, valued at $1.1 million in 2018. It is also void of any mention of business classes as a prerequisite for any of her children to reap the benefits of her career earnings.

On July 11, a jury in Pontiac, Michigan, determined the 2014 version, which was signed by Aretha, was valid and would serve as her official will. The verdict did not determine whether to eliminate in whole or just in part elements of 2011 will that the brothers previously had agreed was valid. The two sides — White and the Franklin brothers — are scheduled to file briefs and have a status hearing in front of a judge next week about the unresolved elements.q

On social media, people expressed disbelief over Kecalf and Edward Franklin’s perceived fight to not sharpen their financial literacy ahead of being granted access to their mother’s funds. 

All this over taking business classes? They bout to run through that money.”

“She been home 5 years. They could’ve got mad degrees and certificates during that time.”

“Lord retha estate gonna be broke AF.”

“Chileee they wrote they own will baby.”

Other details outlined in both versions of the will are requirements that Clarence be financially supported and that her gowns be either auctioned off or donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. 

The story of Aretha’s rise to superstardom was adapted into the critically acclaimed film “Respect” starring Jennifer Hudson as the late vocalist and Marlon Wayans as her first husband, Ted White. Despite rave reviews for her portrayal, Hudson was snubbed at the 2022 Oscars.

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