Aretha Franklin Left No Will for Her Estate: Report

Aretha Franklin did not leave behind a will before her passing, according to reports.

The Detroit Free Press claimed Franklin’s four sons filed a document in Oakland County Probate Court on Tuesday in which they listed themselves as interested parties in her estate. Per the news outlet, Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owen, also asked to be appointed personal representative of the estate.

“I was after her for a number of years to do a trust,” Don Wilson, an attorney who represented Franklin for nearly three decades, told The Detroit Free Press. “It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate, and kept things private.” 

According to Michigan law, if an unmarried person dies without a will, that person’s property is distributed equally amongst all living children. 

Wilson told the news outlet he would have been consulted about her assets for such purposes. However, Arnold Reed, who also reportedly represented Franklin during her lifetime, suggested people shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

“You have [estate] representatives for numerous reasons that have legal ramifications that don’t necessarily point to a person having or not having a will,” Reed told The Detroit News.

Wilson also told The Detroit Free Press it’s impossible to put a dollar value on her song catalog, which included hits like “Respect” and “Chain of Fools.”

Franklin passed away at her home in Detroit on the morning of Aug. 16. Her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, told The Associated Press (via NBC News) the Queen of Soul died of advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. The 18-time Grammy winner was surrounded by family members and loved ones at the time of her passing. 

“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” part of Quinn’s statement to the AP read, per NBC News. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bound.”

Franklin will be laid to rest in Detroit on Aug. 31. Public viewings will also be held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Aug. 28 and Aug. 29.

A tribute concert is also expected to take place this fall.