The Unbelievable Way Aretha Franklin's Sons Discovered One Of Her Wills

Singer Aretha Franklin, often hailed as the Queen of Soul, had a monumental career that spanned several decades and left an indelible mark on the music industry. Born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, the star's powerful and soulful voice was first honed in the church. She rose to prominence in the 1960s with timeless classics such as "Think," "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman," and Franklin's favorite song she ever sang, "Respect,"  earning her widespread acclaim and numerous awards. Sadly, Aretha Franklin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010. She kept her health battle mostly private before she passed away on August 16, 2018. After her death, her sons Clarence, Edward, Ted White Jr., and Kecalf discovered two separate wills in her home.

One of the handwritten documents was discovered inside a locked drawer and was dated June 2010. Franklin penned her most updated will in March 2014. However, that paper was found in the most unbelievable place, which set off a legal battle over which document was the accurate depiction of Franklin's final wishes.

The 2014 will was found inside Franklin's couch

Aretha Franklin never recorded a formal will at a courthouse or with an attorney. Instead, she scribbled her final wishes down. The Grammy Award winner penned the last version and stuffed it between sofa cushions inside one of her homes as the family was looking for essential records after her death. The four-page will become the subject of fierce debate among Franklin's sons.

The 2014 sofa will named son Kecalf and Franklin's niece, Sabrina Owens, as the executors. Additionally, it awarded Kecalf her beloved Detroit residence, valued at $1.1 million in 2018, at the time of Franklin's death. Sons Edward and Ted were also given homes owned by the soul singer. There was no specified person to inherit her fourth property, which was ultimately sold and split four ways. Before the November 2023 ruling, several members of Franklin's family felt that the will she wrote in 2010 was the fairest, but ultimately, the couch version was determined to be the most valid. Still, both papers stipulated that the brothers should evenly divide the proceeds from their mother's music and copyrights. With her estate estimated to be worth $80 million at the time of Franklin's passing, each man walked away with a substantial amount of money.

Franklin's oldest son was not involved in the will proceedings

As Aretha Franklin's sons, Edward, Ted, and Kecalf worked on sorting out which of her wills was most aligned with her last wishes, Clarence was absent from the proceedings. The oldest of her children. Clarence lives with an unidentified mental illness. He reportedly lives in an assisted living facility with a legal guardian. However, in her wills, Franklin wrote that she wanted Clarence to be taken care of by the estate. Craig A. Smith, an attorney for Edward, confirmed in the court documents that Clarence's brothers agreed to support him, per The New York Times. The exact whereabouts of Clarence remain unknown, likely to protect his privacy.

Despite their court dispute, the estate still keeps Franklin's legacy alive. A box set collection of her 1970s work titled "A Portrait of the Queen – 1970-1974" was released on December 1, 2023. This body of work followed the 2021 biopic, "Respect," which starred Jennifer Hudson, whom Franklin handpicked to play the role before she died. With the matter of the opposing wills now resolved, it seems the family is satisfied with the matter and has moved on.