When Aretha Franklin died last August, she was reported to have died without a will. The administration of her estate proceeded accordingly. This week her lawyer of 40 years said that her family had found three handwritten wills, two from 2010 and one from 2014, in her house. The 2010 wills were in a locked cabinet while the 2014 will was in a spiral notebook under a couch cushion. The wills look like gibberish at first glance. A court will determine their validity in June.
1. Michigan law provides that wills should be signed in the presence of two witnesses (same as Ohio).
2. Michigan allows for holographic (i.e. handwritten) wills if it is certain the writing is intended to be the person’s will and it is dated.
3. Writing in a spiral notebook under a couch cushion rarely looks to be the final thoughts regarding the disposition of one’s assets even if dated.
4. If someone has millions of dollars and millions more in expected music royalties, she should pay a lawyer to prepare a properly drafted will and trust and let the attorney keep it so there is no posthumous doubt about her wishes. Get it right.
Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer for AP
License: Fair Use/Education (from linked article)