During a hearing at Oakland County Probate Court on Tuesday, a Michigan judge agreed to allow a handwriting expert examine wills discovered in couch cushions after Aretha Franklin‘s death.
Judge Jennifer Callaghan also placed administration of the Queen of Soul’s estate under court supervision. “That means the court will have a role in major decisions about her estate, including the sale of property,” per Page Six. Franklin’s niece Sabrina Owens remains the personal representative for the estate.
Via USA Today:
The three-hour proceeding introduced several key revelations, including that more than $350,000 already has been distributed by the estate to Franklin’s four sons, and that $178,000 was stolen from the singer via bank fraud months before her August 2018 death.
The estate has earned $1.1 million from the gospel documentary “Amazing Grace,” attorney David Bennett told Judge Callaghan.
Discussing Franklin’s personal property — including items of potential historical significance — he said former President Barack Obama has asked for the famed hat worn by the singer at his 2009 inauguration.
Tuesday’s hearing exposed the deepening divide among Franklin’s surviving family members. A handwritten 2014 document shows the singer apparently wanted her son, Kecalf Franklin, to serve as the representative of her estate. Kecalf is petitioning the court to name him the estate’s personal representative, replacing Owens, and he is being supported by his brother Edward, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Ted White, Franklin’s third son, has backed Owens while asking to be named co-representative, the report states. Owens is also favored to serve as guardian of Franklin’s eldest son, Clarence, who has special needs. In petitions filed last week, Jon Munger asked the court to deny Kecalf and Teddy’s requests to represent the estate.
“Kecalf Franklin, throughout his life, has not exhibited or displayed any ability or inclination to support himself and lacks the financial knowledge or ability to act as a fiduciary,” read the filing on behalf of Clarence.
Following the hearing, Kecalf handed a written statement to the Free Press and various media saying he is in “pursuit of Justice for the Queen.”
“Our mother has enriched the world with music, art and service of activism more than half of her life,” the statement read in part. “The loss of our mother has traumatized our family. Despite our grief, we find ourselves in a battle to defend and protect this legacy against those who wish to disrespect, slander and exploit it.”