Music fans in Colorado Springs may remember the death of music legend Aretha Franklin last August. At the time of her death, it seemed that Franklin passed away without executing a will. However, three holographic wills were recently uncovered in her home. These wills have been filed in probate court and are awaiting further action at a June 12 hearing on the matter.
One of the wills was written in a spiral notebook discovered in a sofa. It was dated March 2014 but is practically unreadable, with many items crossed out and notes written in the margins of the paper. The two other wills were discovered in a locked cabinet. These wills were dated 2010. Franklin’s attorney has moved the court to determine if any of these wills is valid and enforceable.
Holographic wills are not recognized in all states. Franklin passed away in Michigan, which recognizes handwritten wills as valid if certain conditions are met. Colorado also recognizes holographic wills as valid, even if there were no witnesses to the signing of the will, as long as the will is in the handwriting of the testator and it bears the testator’s signature.
This situation demonstrates the importance of making sure you have executed a valid will prior to your death. Doing so can save a lot of confusion and heartache after you pass, which may be of great relief to your surviving loved ones. While no one likes to think about their ultimate death, having a valid will ensures that your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets will be met and that your loved ones will be taken care of.