Unfortunately, Aretha Franklin – The Queen of Soul – passed away a year ago. Still, her memory lives on in incredible hits like “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Respect.” However, recently, the late music icon has popped up in the news for more troubling reasons. Franklin passed away with a large net-worth, including $1 million in uncashed checks. So many are now wondering: what happens to those checks?
Amazing Net Worth
Shortly after Franklin’s death, the IRS claimed that the singer owed $7.8 million in back taxes. While fans worried initially, news started to emerge that Franklin had an incredible $80 million net worth. It seemed everything would work out okay! After paying the IRS, the singer’s four sons, Clarence, Edward, Teddy, and Kecalf, began to try and divide the remaining cash evenly. However, things became even more complicated after lawyers did an extensive inventory of her home in August of last year. There, they found nearly $1 million in uncashed checks.
Many fans wanted to know where the money came from. Some came from film and television royalties. A few checks from the Sound Exchange and Screen Writers Guild totaled up to some $703-thousand. Meanwhile, many more came from music publishing companies, like Springtime Publishing, EMI, BMI, and Carlin Music. The total amount of uncashed came to $988,656.17, according to released court documents! The news shocked everyone, especially her sons. After all, they had never expected to find that much money just lying around. Especially not nine months after Franklin’s death!
Still, even more fans wanted to know why Franklin never chased the checks. It seems that the legendary singer just did not like checks, vastly preferring cash. According to legend, Franklin always asked for performance payments up-front and in cash.
Unfortunately, for the music companies, just because Franklin did not cash the checks doesn’t mean they’re off scot-free. Under the law, they still need to pay the fees they owe to the estate. So, it is likely that some reissued checks might come to the Franklin family in the future.
Dividing The Will
Like many Americans, Aretha Franklin died without an official will. Under Michigan state law, her estate would be divided equally among her four sons. However, when lawyers searched her home, they found three hand-written wills, proven as real. Two came from 2010, and were hidden in a cabinet. Meanwhile, the singer wrote the other in 2014, and placed it under the cushion of her favorite couch.
From there, things only became more complicated: in all the wills, Franklin divided the estate differently. Sabrina Owens was appointed as the representative of the estate, but the brothers became upset with how she did her work. Owens was late distributing the assets, and she missed both the wills and the uncashed checks. But Owens swiped back, saying, “It is totally unacceptable that it has taken a year for the heirs to begin to find out what their mother owned on the date of her death.”
Unfortunately for both family and fans, this fight will likely only end after a long legal battle. Still, despite everything, Franklin will always stay alive in our hearts and through her music.