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Aretha Franklin's family still fighting for control of her estate

When people with considerable assets and complicated families pass away without an estate plan in place, loved ones and others often engage in expensive, lengthy, contentious legal battles. That's probably not what the deceased person would have wanted. Unfortunately, people don't want to think about their ultimate passing, so they don't take steps that would help avoid these disputes.

One of Aretha Franklin's sons is in a court battle with her niece, who is the representative (executor) of her estate. At stake is control of the R&B icon's assets and legacy.

Franklin's son is trying to have the representative removed from her position and is seeking to replace her. When Franklin passed away in Aug. 2018, it was believed that she had no will. However, some nine months later, the niece found three handwritten wills on Franklin's property (including one in her sofa cushions) -- which only added new confusion.

Franklin's son, Kecalf, is accusing the woman of mismanaging his mother's estate. He's also claims she hasn't provided an inventory of Franklin's assets (including her Grammys and other awards, gold records, masters of her recordings and jewelry) or information about a number of matters, including the valuation of her music catalog. He also says the representative didn't tell Franklin's family about the deals she's making for a movie and TV show about the music legend.

In response, according to court documents, the representative is asking for witnesses -- including bankers, lawyers and even record executive Clive Davis -- who can testify that she is handling the responsibilities she's tasked with. She contends that she has been updating all of Franklin's sons about these matters.

Most families who have estate disputes don't have the kind of assets at stake that the Franklin family has. However, when a loved one didn't make their wishes known in a clear, comprehensive manner, confusion, anger and conflict can result. If you are considering taking legal action regarding a loved one's estate, it's wise to seek experienced legal guidance.

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