The battle around the distribution of the estate of the recently deceased Queen of Soul among her four surviving sons is set to get fiercer as Aretha Franklin reportedly had nearly $1 million in uncashed checks at the time of her death, according to a new inventory of her assets in newly filed court documents.
The famous singer passed away on August 16, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan after decades of making music to critical and worldwide acclaim. It was believed she did not leave a will at the time of her passing, which led to the initial decision of dividing her $80 million assets equally among her four sons.
Three months ago, however, three handwritten wills were found, one under the cushions of her couch, detailing how to divide her estate. The documents reportedly have been turned over to experts to authenticate the handwriting so the division can commence.
If the wills are validated, the manner of distribution of the assets will be changed.
In an inventory undertaken in waiting for the authentication, it has been brought to light that the singer had almost $1 million in uncashed checks from as far back as 2012.
Among the checks were $702,711.90 from Sound Exchange and the Screen Writers Guild and $285,944.27 in checks from her publishing company, Springtime Publishing, EMI, BMI, Carlin Music and Feel Good Films. The grand total was $988,656.17, according to Billboard.
All her sons have maintained separate legal teams during the whole process, and her son Kecalf Cunningham reportedly has already contacted one of the banks that issued some of the checks.
His legal team in a motion filed in court alleged that “to date, the heirs still do not know what was owned on Aretha Franklin’s date of death” and that “it is totally unacceptable that it has taken a year for the heirs to begin to find out what their mother owned on the date of her death.”
They claim that Sabrina Owens, a cousin to the sons and personal representative of Aretha Franklin’s estate collectively chosen by the sons is not executing her work well, not distributing an inventory of Aretha’s estate to the four heirs until six months after it was due by law.
They also maintain in court papers that the inventory she eventually presented was incomplete, missing large components like bank statements, tax bills, appraisals for the value of her homes and blue book values of her cars, demanding that the court either order Franklin’s personal attorney, David Bennett, to produce these documents or impose sanctions on Bennett and Owens for their failure to provide them.
Kecalf Franklin and his legal team insist that their only intent is to obtain “an accurate description of items owned by his mother at the time of her death,” and not to stir up trouble.