Could Handwritten Wills Hold Up in The Aretha Franklin Case?

After the Queen of Soul passed away in August 2018, plenty of news reports covered the fact that it appeared she hadn’t done enough work for estate planning. It was anticipated that her expected $80 million fortune would be distributed without the assistance of a last will and testament, since none was found at the time she passed away.

This means that Michigan’s intestate laws would have applied regarding the distribution of her assets. However, nine months after she has passed away, three handwritten last wills and testaments were discovered in her Michigan house.

The documents were found prior to the impending sale for the residence. One of these was dated from 2014 and two others were dated from 2010. At this time it is not yet confirmed whether or not the handwriting is Aretha Franklin’s, but there are notes in the margins and some scribbles as well.

All three of the last wills and testaments have been filed in probate court, and the first hearing on these matters is scheduled for June 12th, 2019. Holographic or handwritten wills can frequently pose issues related to their validity. Michigan is one the states that accepts these as valid so long as the document can be authenticated by additional proofs.

Attorney Jan Copley recently spoke about these situations and the dangers of estate planning mistakes on the local NPR station- click here to listen to that episode!

Although the discovery of the decedent’s last will in a case in which it was suspected that no such thing existed could be good news, it can also complicate matters further and increase the chances of a will contest. Schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney in California today to learn more about how to minimize this in your own case.





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