Aretha Franklin, With a Reported Net Worth of $80 Million, Died With No Will

Aretha Franklin performs onstage during the Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ Premiere Concert on April 19, 2017, in New York City.
Photo: Noam Galai (Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

In what strikes many as odd, soul singer Aretha Franklin died without a will.

The “Queen of Soul” who died at age 76 on Thursday, died “intestate,” according to court documents obtained by TMZ.


Franklin’s not having a will was surprising for two main reasons: she had reportedly been ill for quite some time (she finally succumbed to pancreatic cancer); and, according to TMZ, one of her adult children, Clarence, has special needs, and requires “financial and other forms of support for his entire life.”

The good news is that her estate—reportedly worth more than $80 million at the time of her death, will be split evenly among Clarence and his three brothers, according to Michigan state law.

Business Insider reports that the executor, who administers the process of transferring assets, will be appointed by the court. However, as with the case of Prince, who also died without a will, the executor can collect millions in fees while the family receives nothing until the value of the estate is established.


Franklin will be laid to rest on Aug. 31, at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. There will be an open-casket viewing for the public in the days prior.

An impromptu memorial for singer Aretha Franklin, the ‘Queen of Soul’ is shown outside New Bethel Baptist Church, the church where Aretha Franklin’s late father Rev. C.L. Franklin was a minister and where she began her singing career, Aug. 19, 2018, in Detroit.
Photo: Bill Pugliano (Getty Images)

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Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.