When a person dies without a will or any other estate planning documents, surviving loved ones can have a difficult time handling the remaining affairs. In some cases, documents may later be discovered that could shed light on estate administration issues, but those documents may not always be the answer surviving loved ones were looking for. In fact, more strife could arise.
California readers may be interested in recent reports indicating that three handwritten wills have been discovered in Aretha Franklin's home. Though it was unclear who found them, two of the documents were found in a locked cabinet, and the third was discovered under the cushions of a couch. The legendary singer died in 2018 seemingly without any type of estate plan. Her niece was named as the personal representative for her estate, and once these wills were discovered, she showed them to attorneys for the estate's heirs.
At the time of the report, the validity of the documents was under scrutiny. They are apparently difficult to read, and it has not yet been determined whether they are valid under state law. A hearing to determine their validity had been set for June, but it was noted that two of Franklin's sons are already contesting the contents of the documents, two of which were dated in 2010 and one in 2014.
Estate administration is already a complex process, and without any documents to follow, it may become more difficult. Unfortunately, even if documents are later found, they could be more cause for questions than relief for some heirs. Still, the documents need to be properly reviewed, and if California residents have concerns over discovered estate planning documents, they may wish to discuss those concerns with legal professionals.