While Aretha Franklin was thought to have died without leaving behind a will, earlier this month three documents were discovered by her niece and filed in court earlier this week, according to the Associated Press. Two handwritten wills, dating from 2010, were found in a locked cabinet, and another from 2014 was discovered in a notebook beneath some couch cushions.
A court hearing is set for June 12 to determine the documents’ validity. If proven legitimate, the documents could alter the estate of the legendary singer, who died last August after a long battle with cancer.
The 2014 document requests that her son Kecalf Franklin serve as the estate’s representative — a role currently filled by the niece who found the documents, Sabrina Owens.
According to court documents cited by the AP, Owens discovered a key to a locked cabinet at Franklin’s home on May 3. The two wills from 2010 were inside; one says a will from decades earlier is “no good.” The other one found in the cabinet is 11 pages long and has a notary’s signature. Also on May 3, Owens located the third will beneath living-room couch cushions. The four-page document sets aside various assets for family members, including four sons and grandchildren, but is difficult to read, the report says.
Regardless, the documents could be admissible under Michigan law. “If it’s clear and convincing evidence of your intentions, it’s a perfectly valid document,” Patrick Simasko, an estate specialist, told the AP. “The court wants to do everything in its power to fulfill the wishes of the person who passed away.”