Dispute resolution

Row over Aretha Franklin’s Will shows how crucial specialist advice is…

People should use specialist advice if there are disagreements about the validity of a Will to avoid costly legal debates like those facing Aretha Franklin’s family.

The advice from contested estates expert, Katherine Ellis comes after news that Franklin’s family were split over who should execute the famous American singer, songwriter and civil rights activist’s will, and who should receive what.

When Franklin died last year, her family initially thought she had no will, but since then a series of handwritten wills that could significantly alter the estate have been discovered – leading to the family row.

Katherine Ellis, a Senior Associate Solicitor in Thursfields’ Birmingham office, said: “While this case will rest on the law in the US rather than the UK, it does highlight the difficulties which can arise where there are concerns surrounding the validity of a will.

These concerns are far more likely to arise where a professional hasn’t been involved in the will-drafting process.

There are certain legal requirements which must be adhered to for a will to be considered legally valid in the UK and these requirements apply whether the will is homemade or drafted by a professional.

Where there are concerns regarding the validity of a will following a person’s death then it’s imperative that those concerned seek specialist advice as a priority to prevent the potentially invalid will from being entered into probate.”

Katherine, whose expertise includes dealing with complex probate issues and contested estate disputes, added: “The best scenarios are always those where the wills themselves have been drawn up with the advice of legal experts.

But where that’s not the case, family members should seek expert  legal advice regarding the will’s validity to avoid all the stress of falling out at what is always a sensitive time after someone’s death.”

Anyone wanting to discuss a legacy matter can contact Katherine Ellis at kellis@thursfields.co.uk and 0121 647 5419.

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