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Agoura Hills Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Attorneys

Is it true that Aretha Franklin died without a Will?

Providing Peace of Mind One Estate Plan at A Time

[7/11/2023 UPDATE]

No. According to a Michigan Jury, a handwritten note found in the singer's couch is actually a valid Will. See the AP News article here:

[Original post from 8/23/2018 is below.]

Yes. According to court records filed this week by her family, the Queen of Soul joins the long list of celebrities (think of Prince, Sonny Bono, Jimi Hendrix) with no written Will or estate plan.

Court records filed in Oakland County, signed by her son, Kecalf Franklin, and her estate attorney, David Bennett, state that they are "unaware of any unrevoked testamentary instrument relating to property located in this state".

Looks like a long probate court administration could be in store for all of the heirs. With an estate worth an estimated $80M (according to, and much of it presumably in the form of music royalties, this could lead to a long and complicated saga over who will ultimately control Franklin's estate (and presumably her public image) for years to come.

The number one reason prospective clients tell us they don't want to write a Will -- "If I write my Will, I'll die". That is true. But if you don't write a Will, you'll still die, and you'll likely leave a large legal mess for others to clean up.

Still wondering whether a Will (or perhaps a Trust-based plan) is right for you? Call us (818.707.8200). We've got answers.

[This blog is for informational purposes only, and should NOT be relied upon as legal advice.]