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Probate litigation: Wills found in Aretha Franklin's home

The queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, delighted music fans in Illinois and throughout the world for many decades. Her private life, however, was something of a mystery, as made evident after her death when numerous legal issues surfaced regarding her estate. Probate litigation continues, as answers are sought regarding questions surrounding three handwritten wills that were reportedly found in the late singer's home.

The soul music icon passed away approximately nine months ago. At the time, it was believed she had never signed a last will and testament. It has since been brought to the court's attention that three separate documents, all of which appear to be signed by Franklin, have been discovered in her former home. In fact, one of the documents was said to be stuffed under a cushion.

The other two documents were apparently found in a locked cabinet. All three papers were handwritten. Officials say some parts of the writing are unintelligible. Franklin's estate is estimated in value at approximately $80 million. Two of her sons have reportedly contested the contents of at least two of the three documents.

A probate litigation judge will determine whether the recently located documents are legally valid wills. The situation will likely take time to resolve. While most Illinois residents do not own estates worth $80 million, many people need guidance and support to help them devise solid plans that protect their assets and help their loved ones avoid probate disputes down the line. An experienced estate planning attorney is a great asset to have on hand throughout the planning process.

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