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Wills, Probate & Trust

Jury rules document found in Aretha Franklin’s sofa is valid will

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

After a five-year legal battle, a jury in Michigan has now ruled that a home-made 2014 Will prepared by the soul singer Aretha Franklin, found down the side of her sofa, is the valid Will to her (approximately) £4.6 million pound estate.

Following Franklin’s death in 2018, her chosen executor began work to administer her estate in accordance with her Will dated June 2010, only to discover some months later a home-made Will dated 2014.

The provision of both Wills differed resulting in some of her children/grandchildren receiving more on one Will than the other. Sadly, this led to conflict in the family and eventually a legal case which has spanned five years, broken down family relations and no doubt cost a considerable sum in legal fees.

While any individual can prepare their own Will (Assuming the legal formalities of the Wills act 1837 are followed), cases such as this really highlight the dangers of doing so. A properly prepared Will by a professional would make your intentions clear to revoke any former Wills and ensure greater certainty of your wishes, preventing issues in the family on your death.

With changing family dynamics, it is not uncommon to have very specific wishes about who you would want to receive your estate on death. It is very important that changes to your Will to exclude someone are properly thought out and certain provisions are put in place to mitigate the chances of claims against your estate. This will save considerable time, expense and stress for your executors and family members when the time comes.

Will disputes are (sadly) not uncommon, costly and stressful for your family, if you are considering alterations to your Will it is best to have professional involvement to ensure situations like the above are avoided. If you are considering a new Will or wish to review your existing one, feel free to contact us at Samuel Phillips Law for a free consultation.

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