Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly one of the most influential American songstresses in recent memories, with more than 112 charted singled on the Billboard music charts. At the time of her passing on August 16, 2018, Aretha Franklin reportedly had a net worth of $80 million. However, despite her sizable fortune, Ms. Franklin passed without a will or trust to manage her estate- in other words, she died “intestate”.
At the time of her death, it appears Ms. Franklin was domiciled in the state of Michigan, meaning the intestacy laws of Michigan dictate how the legal process of determining her estate will unfold. State intestacy laws dictate the order of distribution of assets of an estate in the absence of estate planning documents. As Ms. Franklin passed as a divorced mother of four children, Michigan’s intestacy scheme will most likely dictate her four sons will split her estate per stirpes (or in equal shares). Yet the probate court with jurisdiction over the estate will still need to perform formal probate proceedings to determine the distributions- including the final accountings of her estate, which includes liquid and tangible assets, together with copious song copyrights for her original compositions as well as portions of songs written by other artists.
As of the writing of this article, Ms. Franklin’s four sons have filed documents with the probate court listing themselves as interested parties in her estate, and at least one other relative has filed court documents requesting appointment as personal representative of the estate. The vast breadth of Ms. Franklin’s estate invites the possibility of a hotly contested process, a possibility that is all too common with intestate estates of notable magnitude. Get more information on intestacy and estate planning.
Regardless of the outcome of the assets of her estate, Ms. Franklin leaves behind a vast library of songs and compositions fans from all over the world will continue to enjoy for generations to come. Her funeral is planned for August 31, 2018 in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan, and will find her final resting place in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.