When Aretha Franklin shuffled off this mortal coil one year ago, she reportedly left behind much more than music and memories of legendary shady moments. Aretha reportedly left behind several handwritten wills and unpaid tax bills, and now we’re learning that tucked under that giant pile of financial drama was multiple uncashed checks totaling almost a million dollars.
Billboard says that newly filed court papers state that several checks were discovered during an inventory of Aretha’s possessions. Inventory is being taken to determine exactly what’s included in her estate. When Aretha passed, it was rumored she had no wills, and that her estate would be divided equally between her four sons. Later, three handwritten wills were found. One of her sons claimed that Aretha wanted him to take control over her estate, which of course fudges things up further. Right now, her sons’ cousin Sabrina Owens is the personal representative of the estate (something her sons aren’t happy about). But for now, we’re focusing on all these checks.
Billboard says there was a $702,711.90 check from SoundExchange and Screen Writers Guild. There were also numerous checks from her publishing company, Springtime Publishing, as well as EMI, BMI, Carlin Music, and Feel Good Films. In total, Aretha failed to cash $988,656.17 worth of checks.
Aretha’s failure to cash checks apparently goes back a few years. Aretha’s son Kecalf Franklin contacted a bank that issued one of the checks, and apparently there is documentation of checks from 2012 having to be re-issued in 2016. The IRS must be thinking, “Okay, it’s obvious why we weren’t getting paid. She was never at the bank!”
Finding nearly a million in checks sounds like my idea of a good time, but not Kecalf. He’s pissed because he thinks it shows that his cousin Sabrina has no idea what’s going on with Aretha’s estate. His attorney writes:
“It is totally unacceptable that it has taken a year for the heirs to begin find out what their mother owned on the date of her death. To date, the heirs still do not know what was owned on Aretha Franklin’s date of death.”
They can fight it out all they want, but someone needs to make sure those checks are locked up somewhere safe. And you know what? Throw Aretha’s big-ass Inauguration hat in there too. I know Barack Obama wants that hat, but the last thing we need is for it to go missing. Aretha’s house was hit by a thief once before. The last thing we need is that thief taking the hat, a couple of those checks, and a face-obscuring pair of sunglasses, and swinging by the nearest bank with their best Aretha impression.