A Year Later, the Fight Over Aretha Franklin’s Estate Deepens

A Year Later, the Fight Over Aretha Franklin’s Estate Deepens


Another son, Ted White Jr., was largely raised by the family of his father, Ted White, Franklin’s former manager, to whom she was married in the 1960s, Ms. Owens said in an interview.

All four sons, now middle-aged adults, have tried to pursue music careers. Kecalf performed as a Christian rapper under the name Kecalf Cunningham, to sometimes harsh reviews. Ted White Jr. played guitar for his mother under the name Teddy Richards. Edward Franklin tried to establish himself as a gospel singer.

Clarence, who was born when Ms. Franklin was in her early teens, has written a number of songs, including some recorded by his mother. His current condition is unclear. In Ms. Franklin’s March 2014 will, the last of three she drafted, she instructed her other sons to check on Clarence’s welfare weekly and “oversee his needs.” But Mildred Gaddis, a radio fixture in Detroit who was a friend of Franklin’s, called Clarence “quite aware, without question,” and added: “There’s this perception out there that he is intellectually deficient. None of that is true.”

Clarence’s court-appointed guardian, Jon B. Munger, declined to comment on his client’s health, but he has argued that neither the 2014 will, nor two earlier drafts dated in 2010, can be authenticated, and that they contain contradictory instructions and are at points illegible. If Franklin is found to have died without a will, Clarence would receive a one-fourth share, like the other sons. But the 2014 will does not even list him as a beneficiary, except to the extent that the other sons follow their mother’s written dictate to take care of him.

Kecalf, who favors the 2014 will, has been the most aggressive in court filings. His lawyers complained this week in court papers that, though the estate has cataloged some assets, it has taken too long to present a complete inventory.



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