Fri | Jul 10, 2020

Aretha Franklin left will hidden under a cushion

Published:Thursday | May 23, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The Queen of Soul’s family thought she hadn’t left any documents declaring her last wishes and how she wanted her assets dividing when she passed away in August 2018, but lawyers have now revealed they uncovered three handwritten notes in her Detroit home.

According to her estate’s attorney, David Bennett, two wills dated from 2010 were found in a locked cabinet after a key to the dresser was located, while the most recent one, which was written in 2014, was found under cushions in the Natural Woman hitmaker’s living room.

Some of the writing – which includes notes in the margins and scratched-out text – has proven to be hard to decipher but appear to give her assets to various members of her family.

The attorney filed the wills – which were discovered earlier this month – in court on Monday, but he is unsure whether they are legally binding under Michigan law.


A hearing is scheduled to take place on June 12 as two of Aretha’s four sons object to the wills, the family said in a statement.

In a separate court filing, the Respect singer’s son, Kecalf Franklin, claimed the 2014 will stated that his mother wanted him to serve as representative of the estate, but the estate has confirmed that Sabrina Owens, an administrator at the University of Michigan, will continue to serve as their representative.

Don Wilson, a lawyer based in Los Angeles who worked for Aretha for 30 years, previously claimed he had spent a long time trying to persuade his client to get her affairs in order.

He said: “I tried to convince her that she should do not just a will but a trust, while she was still alive.

“She never told me, ‘No, I don’t want to do one.’ She understood the need. It just didn’t seem to be something she got around to.”

Wilson added: “She was a private person.”