When Aretha Franklin died in August 2018, she did so without having a will in place for posthumous matters. As a result, his heirs suffered a series of legal troubles, including Franklin’s unpaid income taxes and associated penalty interest of $7.8 million.
Although the debt – incurred between 2010 and 2017 – did not significantly reduce the estimated value of the estate to $80 million, it was paid in full, reports the Detroit Free Press. The debt was reportedly repaid on June 17 by a cashier’s check issued by Reginald Turner, lawyer and personal representative of the estate. When asked to confirm on Monday, July 11, the IRS could not, due to federal privacy laws.
In April 2021, the estate and the IRS reached an agreement to accelerate the payment schedule, which resulted in limited quarterly payments for Franklin’s sons Clarence, Edward, Teddy and Kecalf. The agreement stipulated that an immediate payment of $800,000 was required, as only incoming revenue would be used to pay off the balance. 45% of quarterly revenue would go to the existing balance while 40% would be “directed to an escrow account to manage future taxes on newly generated revenue”. The remaining 15% would be used for domain management.
The estate argued that incoming income should be split equally between the men, requiring all tax liabilities to be handled individually. The request has not yet been informed.
The outlet also reported that in addition to the looming tax issue, his heirs have had quite a battle to settle matters of his estate since his death, some of which have been handled combatively.
That doesn’t help much considering multiple wills have been uncovered since Franklin’s death. Three were found at the Soul Queen’s home in 2019, all handwritten, and the fourth was an unsigned typescript prepared by a Troy, Michigan law firm in 2017.
Each contains conflicting instructions on how to manage the estate and distribute its assets among its heirs. The initial trial to settle the case was scheduled for 2020 but has since been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.