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Battle for control of Aretha Franklin's estate heats up at court hearing

Estate rumored to be worth $50 million

DETROIT – The battle over Aretha Franklin's massive estate is heating up in court, and Local 4 has learned there might be even more money at stake.

Franklin's estate is rumored to be worth $50 million, but Monday in court, there was word that new blockbuster Hollywood projects with her name on them could be in the works.

That means the estimate could go up as family members fight to wrest control of her fortune.

It's still unknown whether the handwritten wills Franklin left behind are valid. It's likely that if any one is good, it's the late one made out in 2014.

Half a dozen attorneys and some of the Franklin family showed up for Money's hearing, and there was some thought that a ruling on her handwritten wills could come.

That didn't happen, but Franklin's attorney, David Barrett, updated Judge Jennifer Callaghan on the progress of trying to settle on nonbinding facilitation to make informal agreements on how the estate will be divided.

There's also the subject of Franklin's passing boosting her singing career.

"On a weekly basis, we receive multiple requests for licenses for her songs and her likeness," Barrett said.

That makes the estate more money. On top of the recent Franklin documentary, "Amazing Grace," Imagine Entertainment, Ron Howard's company, wants to do a Genius TV program and MGM wants to do a biopic, meaning still more money will come.

But there's not a full agreement.

Attorney Charlene Glover is representing Franklin's youngest son and wants him in charge of the estate instead of his cousin.

"Miss Franklin was pretty specific in terms of who she wanted to serve as the rep, which was her son, Kecalf Franklin," Glover said. "She made that known in all of her wills."

"It'll all get worked out," said probate lawyer Charles Smith, who is representing another of Franklin's sons. "Time solves all problems. Money solves all problems."

Smith said he's also the attorney for the Isley brothers, who he said told Franklin they would watch over her family. He said Elvis Presley's estate was worthless at his death, but now, it's worth $300 million.


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