One of the greatest singers of all time left this good earth on Aug. 16, 2018 when Aretha Franklin passed away in Detroit.
She had an incredible career and was literally American royalty as she was given the title of the “The Queen of Soul” in 1967 by a Chicago disc jockey.
When she died it was estimated that she had a net worth of $80 million. She reportedly died intestate or without a will.
Last week things changed as three handwritten documents which had been found in her Bloomfield Hills home, one or more of which could have been intended to be her will, were filed with the Oakland County Probate Court.
The question now presented is can a handwritten document be recognized as a valid will?
The answer is it depends on a number of things.
Under Michigan law, a handwritten will is called a “holographic will.”
A holographic will can be declared valid as long as it is dated, the testator (person making the will) signed it, the “material portions” of the will are in the testator’s handwriting, and it’s evident that the document was intended to be the testator’s will.
The term “material portions” includes who the heirs are, who the personal representative will be, and any special instructions such as providing for the care of a minor child.
A hearing or a trial is held in the Probate Court to determine these issues. All documents, other evidence and testimony is reviewed to determine if there has been a sufficient showing of the existence a holographic will.
Sometimes this can be a very difficult and highly contested process.
This is an example of why it’s very important for everyone to consider having a will and possibly a trust.
When you do, the likelihood of your wishes being carried out after you’re gone increase dramatically.
There are other famous music figures who had estate issues or died without a will including James Brown, Prince, Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix.
Legal commentators are already predicting that the Franklin case could take a considerable amount of time to be resolved. Hopefully there will be a satisfactory resolution for all concerned and the Queen will be able to rest in peace.