ARETHA Franklin’s $80 million fortune is fast being gobbled up by lawyers — because bickering family members refuse to end a ferocious feud over the loot!
Last year Aretha’s estate paid more than a half-million dollars in fees to legal eagles in the brawl that exploded after the singer’s Aug. 16, 2018, cancer death.
New York wills and estates attorney Marcus O’Toole-Gelo says the family fisticuffs could end up squandering even larger buckets of bucks.
“These cases can cost a lot of money depending on the stomach of the parties to keep it going,” Marcus says. “If this drags on, it can cost millions.”
Four lawyers working for Detroit area firm Thav Gross, which represents the estate, raked in $586,566 in 2019, according to court documents filed in Michigan’s Oakland County Probate Court.
The estate’s lead attorney, David J. Bennett, blamed the costs on the war between Aretha’s four sons as well as the singer’s vast and complicated musiclicensing deals.
“The estate required expensive work in regard to the probate aspects, the intellectual property aspects … and the defense of the petitions filed by the parties and/or complainants,” he says.
The ugly court battle has pit Aretha’s sons Kecalf Cunningham, 49, and Edward Franklin, 63, against their brothers Teddy Richards, 55, and Clarence Franklin, 65, and the singer’s niece and estate administrator, Sabrina Owens.
The brothers had agreed to let Sabrina oversee the estate until three handwritten wills were discovered in Aretha’s home on May 3, 2019. The first named Sabrina and Teddy as executors, while the more recent document reportedly put Kecalf in charge, triggering the current court brawl.
Meanwhile, Sabrina pocketed $52,543 in “fiduciary fees” and claimed $14,294 in expenses — including $3,981 for jewelry and clothing and $1,293 for a computer — according to court documents.
Charlene Glover-Hogan, an attorney for Kecalf and Edward, says her clients will “continue to press the conflict of-interest issues, excessive fees paid to the attorney (and) inappropriate accounting for assets of the estate as well as gross negligence in managing their mother’s affairs.”
Currently, the combatants are due in court Feb. 4 to give Judge Jennifer Callaghan an update on their family battle.
Aretha Franklin may have been WHAT?! ON NO!!😲🤭