Aretha Franklin left behind a legacy that honors her as the Queen of Soul. She also left a fortune rumored at around $80 million and no will or trust. Legal experts say the singer’s four children will likely share her estate equally, but they add that distributing her assets won’t be easy.
“I was after her for a number of years to do a trust,” Los Angeles attorney Don Wilson told The Detroit Free Press. She never got around to it.
“It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate and kept things private,” said Wilson, who represented her in entertainment matters for nearly three decades. The lack of a will means Franklin’s finances will become public in Oakland County Probate Court.
Harvey Tennen, an attorney who represented the singer in the 1980s, told the Free Press at that time that Franklin handled her own finances and was overwhelmed by them.
“She’s a wonderful artist who shouldn’t be handling her own business, but she does,” Tennen said. “She just doesn’t have time for it and she doesn’t realize the kind of bad press she gets from not dealing with things like that. She needs a manager, she needs a lawyer, she needs professionals. But she usually doesn’t talk to them until it’s too late.”
Franklin died of advanced pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.