Just last week, the world lost legendary singer Aretha Franklin at age 76. Franklin succumbed to complications caused by pancreatic cancer, though she left an incredible catalog — and lots of revenue generating assets — behind.
Now, the surviving family members are learning that Franklin may not have left a will or trust behind, a situation that could create years of legal wrangling.
Just this morning (August 22nd), CNN reported that court documents show that no will or trust was generated by Franklin. Reportedly, Los Angeles attorney Don Wilson worked with Franklin for nearly three decades. He said he continually asked the singer to establish these items to keep things private rather than having them going to probate.
Franklin apparently never had these items created, per court records.
Several of Aretha Franklin’s family members have now become involved in the estate process. Her niece asked to be made the personal representative for the late singer’s estate. In addition, Franklin’s four sons all filed a document as “interested parties” for the estate matter.
Attorney Don Wilson will work as a consultant for the estate planning. He worked with Aretha Franklin as her lawyer when it came to various musical copyrights, record deals, or with the publication of her songs. As the Detroit Free Press reported, Wilson said Franklin maintained ownership of all of her “original compositions.” These include hits “Rock Steady” and “Think,” among many others.
Wilson mentioned that with no will available, records of Franklin’s finances will now become public in the Oakland County Probate Court.
He also mentioned that “there always ends up being a fight” when there isn’t a trust or will left behind.
In the absence of a will, Michigan law states the children of the deceased individual receive equal portions of the assets left behind. However, there could still be extended family members or creditors involved in the probate process.
Wilson mentioned that he has been working on a case for the late Ike Turner, which is still in litigation more than a decade after the singer passed.
Meanwhile, Aretha’s family, friends, and fans continue to grieve over the loss. A funeral is scheduled for next Friday (August 31st) in Detroit. A service for family friends will take place at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on that same day. There will also be public viewings on August 28th and August 29th between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. in Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.