Jury Rules Aretha Franklin’s Handwritten Will Found in Couch is Valid

According to a jury, a document that was handwritten by singer Aretha Franklin that was found under a sofa cushion after her death is officially valid. The soulful singer tragically died of advanced pancreatic cancer in 2018.

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Kecalf Franklin and Edward Franklin’s lawyers argued that the papers dated in 2014 should indeed override a 2010 will that was discovered in a locked cabinet at the singer’s home in suburban Detroit. Kecalf argued that the 2014 document was indeed valid after it had a smiley face, which was a “characteristic” of his mother’s signature.

The jury reportedly deliberated for less than an hour after a brief that began early Monday, according to NBC News. After the verdict was read, Franklin’s grandchildren went on to hug Kecalf and Edward.

“I’m very, very happy. I just wanted my mother’s wishes to be adhered to. We just want to exhale right now. It’s been a long five years for my family, my children,” Kecalf Franklin stated.

The superstar didn’t leave a formal will behind when she died at the age of 76. But, both documents that had scribbles and several passages emerged in 2019 when a niece had looked at the home for records and documents.

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In the closing arguments, lawyers for two of Franklin’s sons stated that there was absolutely nothing significant about finding handwritten papers in a notebook. “Inconsequential. … You can take your will and leave it on the kitchen counter. It’s still your will,” Charles McKelvie went on to say before the jury began deliberations.

Both Edward and Kecalf teamed up against brother, Ted White II, who had favored the 2010 will. Kurt Olsen, White’s attorney, argued that the 2010 will was kept under lock and key, saying that the papers were far more significant than the ones found in the couch.

Although both the 2010 and 2014 versions imply that Franklin’s four sons would receive income from music and copyrights, they do have discrepancies. However, according to the 2014 will, Kecalf Franklin and the grandchildren would inherit the singer’s primary residence in Bloomfield Hills. The property was valued at $1.1 million at the time of her death but has significantly increased in worth since then.

(Photo Credit: Ross Marino/Getty Images)

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