Aretha Franklin was so stubborn in her business transactions that she asked to be paid in cash before she entered the stage. Her heirs will not have it that simple.
Although she lived up to 76 and was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer, the Queen of Soul died without a will and had an estate that was almost certainly worth tens of millions of dollars.
While her four sons and other family members are relocating from Friday's funeral in Detroit, they are left with the potentially long task of finding out how many millions she was worth, and dividing it, a process that could take years and probably last. playing in public.
Brokerage experts expressed their amazement, but no shock, that a wealthy person like Franklin would postpone a will until it was too late. At least one of the singer's lawyers says that he has repeatedly urged her to draw one up over the years.
"I tried to convince her that she should not only do a will, but a confidence while she was alive," said Don Wilson, a Los Angeles lawyer who worked with Franklin for almost 30 years.
"She never told me," No, I do not want to do it. "She understood the need, it just did not seem to be something she was ready for. & # 39;
Franklin was not married and left behind four sons aged 48 to 63: Clarence Franklin, Edward Franklin, Kecalf Franklin and Ted White Jr.
Clarence, the oldest of Aretha, is disabled and is represented by a guardian. And a niece of her has accepted the role of executor.
According to Michigan law, as in most states, the sons will distribute their mother's assets equally in the absence of a will, and so far there are no signs of conflicts between family members. Bennett did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages that were looking for comments.
Aretha Franklin's friend Ron Moten, a Michigan businessman, gave the four sons a guide in his speech during Friday's funeral.
"Think of your family and friends who have been with you for years," Moten told the men. "Because you are about to meet many people who want to become your new best friend now, you will also meet some people who will have the best investments in the world for you." My advice, go slowly, be careful and be smart. "
The documents do not mention the value of Franklin's legacy. The figure is almost certainly in the tens of millions, but there will probably be very different estimates if its lawyers try to trivialize its wealth for tax purposes and the IRS tries to maximize the amount for its own reasons.
Franklin retained ownership of the songs she wrote and did well according to them, says Wilson, although of her great hits, To think is the only one who has her own composition. She also wrote some minor hits, such as Rock Steady.
Although her records were played millions of times, she earned little in radio royalty's of smashes such as 1967 & # 39; s respect because such payments go overwhelmingly to the author of the song, not to the performing artist. In case of respectThe royalties go to the Otis Redding estate, even though the song owes almost all its popularity to Franklin.
"I suspect she probably felt she was entitled to more, but probably received more than many artists from that time, especially African-American artists," says Wilson.
Among Franklin's more tangible assets are several real estate properties in the Detroit area estimated to be valued at least $ 2 million by tax assessors, with a market value that could easily be twice as high. Once the value has been determined – a process that could take years – the IRS will pay all overdue taxes that Franklin owes, and then tax its estate with 40 percent for assets over $ US11.2 million.
Kenneth Abdo, a lawyer who specializes in inheritance law and has worked on the estate of Prince, who also died without a will, says that the IRS will conduct an audit of her property.
Wilson, her entertainment lawyer, says she did not want to show her finances publicly: "She was a private person."
As for why some clients do not make a will, Zwicker said that some heirs, like Franklin's son Clarence, need more than others, and that can be a difficult and sensitive decision for a parent.
"One package can be suitable for one child, where other people need more help," Zwicker said. "To accept that and put it on paper, it can be difficult for a parent."