Handwriting expert to examine will found under cushions in Aretha Franklin's home
A handwritten 2014 will that was found under sofa cushions at Aretha Franklin’s home is to examined by a handwriting expert to see whether or not it was written by the US singer.
The move, which comes amid a legal battle between her sons, was allowed by a judge who also put the administration of Franklin’s estate into the court’s hands.
That means the court in Pontiac, Michigan, will have a role in major decisions about her estate, including the sale of property.
The handwritten 2014 document shows Franklin apparently wanted her son, Kecalf Franklin, to serve as the representative of her estate, which might be worth millions.
Handwriting expert Erich Specken was hired by Kecalf Franklin to verify his mother’s writing.
Mr Specken told Oakland County Probate Judge Jennifer Callaghan it will take him about three hours to analyse the document.
But the estate’s lawyers said “there is no basis” to believe Kecalf had the correct skills for managing her assets.
Following her death aged 76 from pancreatic in August last year, it was believed she had not left a will.
But in May this year, three wills were found at the star’s home by her niece Sabrina Owens, who is the estate’s personal representative.
The singer’s heirs had agreed after her death to put the estate in the hands of Ms Owens, who is a university administrator.
Lawyers for her son Theodore White II told a Michigan judge last week in a court filing that he should be named co-executor, or personal representative, along with Ms Owens.
One will – dated March 2014 – was contained in a notebook which Ms Owens discovered as she searched under sofa cushions.
And two handwritten wills from 2010 were found the same day in a locked cabinet which Ms Owens had found the key for.
But the documents were said to look like rough drafts, with words crossed out and arrows in the margins.
Although the names of Ms Owens and Mr White appeared in the two wills from 2010, the 2014 document has their names crossed out.
But Mr White said last week that he did not believe that Franklin had crossed out their names, arguing that both he and Ms Owens should be representatives for his mother’s estate.