Battle for control of Aretha Franklin’s estate continues

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Battle For Control Of Aretha Franklins Estate Continues

No matter the size or scope of one’s estate in Haddonfield, the estate planning process can be quite complicated. It is for this very reason that estate planning experts recommend that those involved in it be as transparent as possible. Many experts might also say that this is wise to include would-be beneficiaries in it (as preparing people for what their roles and/or their interest in an estate might be prior to it being administered may reduce the chances of disputes arising). At the very least, one should notify their designated executor or personal representative of their plans that said party has an idea of what to expect.

A failure to do any of this may result in the confusion currently being witnessed with the estate of the late singing icon Aretha Franklin. Despite having an estate valued in excess of $17 million (which includes her master recordings), Franklin apparently did not prepare a formal will. Her niece was tasked with managing her estate while her sons could finalize their plans on how it should be administered. A legal firm said that it was approached by the men asking it to represent the estate, yet subsequently a handwritten will (found under the cushions of a couch in Franklin’s home) listed one of her sons as the one she wanted to run the estate. The veracity of that will has been challenged, leading the son to ask that the court monitor any fees assessed by the firm until the matter can be decided upon.

This case serves as a clear example of the importance of having a clearly defined estate plan. Those needing to establish one may want to work with an experienced attorney in doing so.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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