Aretha Franklin’s will discovered under couch cushions

A Michigan judge will rule on the veracity of the handwritten documents

aretha franklin will found discovered cushion couch house
Aretha Franklin, photo via Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Upon her death last summer, Aretha Franklin left her family no official will indicating how she’d like her estate to be divided. It turns out she may have just wanted to stash it somewhere safely.

    Almost 12 months after her untimely passing, Franklin’s will — or rather, three different versions of it — has just been discovered under couch cushions and inside a locked cabinet.

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    As The New York Times reports, many of the found documents feature Franklin’s scribbled, sometimes illegible, handwriting. There are numerous crossed out lines and notes left in the margins, as well as “salty tangents” in which she “zings various people she feels served her poorly.” Despite the rough-draft nature of the papers, though, they still manage to instruct what is to be done with Franklin’s assets, including her music royalties, jewelry, music instruments, and property.


    The three separate documents are believed to have been written between 2010 and 2014, and some go into greater detail than others. The first discovered document, for example, is 11 pages long, while the last is just four pages.


    One page of Aretha Franklin’s will, via the New York Times

    Each page of every document appears to have been signed by Franklin. Still, there’s much debate over their veracity considering there were no witnesses to them and none of them had been officially notarized as is usually required.


    Franklin’s family, which the NYT says is divided “over their validity and provisions,” has now asked a Michigan judge to rule on their legality. If the judge rules the documents invalid, Franklin’s four sons are entitled to receive equal shares of her assets.

    Recently, the Queen of Soul was posthumously awarded a “Special Citation” Pulitzer Prize for her “indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”