Attorney: Newly found handwritten wills of Aretha Franklin would be binding

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 – A piece of spiral notebook paper allegedly written on March 31, 2014 is something thought never to have existed before now.

In August Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at 76 years old.

At the time her family and her longtime attorney David Bennett thought no will was ever written, but the first line of newly found documents may prove otherwise.

“If a part of it doesn’t work because you can’t read it doesn’t mean the rest gets thrown out,” said Mark Frankel, attorney with Couzens, Lansky, Fealk, Ellis, Roeder and Lazar, P.C.

Frankel says cases like this happen more than you may think – and very little is required for it to be a binding document.

“The major portions have to be handwritten by the person who is making the will,” he said. “They have to sign it and date it – it doesn’t require witnesses; it doesn’t require a notary.”

Just the existence of the alleged handwritten will is mysterious but is how it was discovered in the first place is also peculiar.

According to attorney David Bennett, one of the three handwritten wills was found wedged in a couch cushion in the living room. The other two were locked in cabinet until a key was found earlier this month.

“Typically it’s the last one that counts and the ones prior that don’t,” Frankel said.

In the eyes of the law where and how they were found matters very little.

“People found wills in freezers and the explanation is well if the house burns down that is the last place that goes up,” Frankel said.

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The next challenge is proving it was written by Franklin.

“Compare them to see which ones look like her handwriting and if some don’t, find out why they don’t,” Frankel said. “And then figure out which one is dated last.”

Bennett said at this point he has nothing to do with the will, he says what happens next is entirely up to the surviving members of the franklin family.

A hearing is scheduled for June 12.

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