AceShowbiz - A fourth will alleged to have been drafted by Aretha Franklin in the months before her death has been found.
The late music legend's estate has been in chaos ever since her 2018 passing after three handwritten notes, with conflicting instructions about her affairs, were discovered in her home.
Now it seems the situation has grown even more complicated after a 22-page typed document, dated 2018 but not signed, was filed in Michigan's Oakland County Probate Court by her son Ted White II earlier this week (begs08Mar21).
According to the filing, which was obtained by the Detroit Free Press, Aretha had been working with officials from the Dickinson Wright law firm from at least 2017 to prepare the will until she "became too ill to continue to finish discussions on a few items."
The filing includes correspondence between the firm's representative and the "Respect" hitmaker, who died of cancer in August, 2018.
Also turned over to the court is a legal contract signed by Aretha in December, 2017, which included several recommendations for her estate plan based on previous discussions, as well as the singer's own handwritten additions.
The will was then drafted in 2018 but the singer never had the opportunity to put pen to paper to sign off on her final wishes.
Among the stipulations were for most of her assets to pass equally to sons Edward Franklin, Ted, and Kecalf Franklin, as well as a trust set up for her eldest child, Clarence Franklin, who has special needs.
The Queen of Soul wanted her furs and clothing to go to her niece Sabrina Owens and cousin Brenda Corbett while her Mercedes-Benz would go to Kecalf and her Ford convertible to son Edward.
Additionally, the three youngest sons were to serve as the estate's personal representatives.
It is unclear how the documents were obtained or why they are only emerging now, but the filing states the discussions between Aretha and the firm's lawyers were discovered "late in 2019."
The petition explains the will was drafted and circulated by attorney Henry Grix, but the documents don't include an affidavit from him.
Ted is seeking for the will and its notes to be recognised as Aretha's true final wishes, citing law which allows a deceased person's "intent to be recognised even if the documents are defective in execution."
Kecalf had been seeking to be named personal representative of the estate as he was given that role in one of the three handwritten wills, but at least two of his siblings had fought against this.
A jury trial had been set up to determine the validity of the handwritten documents, but it has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney Reginald Turner was appointed temporary personal representative of the estate a year ago.