The Aretha Franklin Will Contest would not have happened in Florida.  

By Michelle N. Shupe-Abbas, Esq.

Aretha Franklin Handwritten Will

Aretha Franklin’s “Will” Found in Couch Cushion would not pass the test in Florda.

Aretha Franklin died in 2018.  Recently, a Michigan jury ruled that the Will is valid and now has been admitted to probate.  The family found a handwritten Will in a notebook hidden under a couch cushion and other documents around the house in 2018 and sought to have the court recoginize the Will as valid.  There was a 2010 Will, which if admitted to probate, would have a different outcome.  Back in July, the matter went to trial and a jury found that the 2014 Will was valid, and so it was admitted to probate.  The 2010 Will was disregarded.

In Florida, this document would not have met the strict requirements of the formailties of a Will.  Florida has one of the stricter requirements for what constitutes a Will.  A Will in Florida must be attested to in the presence of two witnesses.  The 2014 documents were not.  Some states accept this type of Will, however Florida will not.

In Florida, a Will must be exectued very formally to meet the requirements of the Florida Statutes to be admitted to probate.  If not executed properly, then it doesn’t matter what the person who died wanted and the Will is disregarded, making the estate intestate, simply meaning there is no Will or valid Will to be probated.  This can often lead to unintended consequenses, like estranged spouses, long lost children, or children of prior marriages getting a share of the assets, which may not be what the person who died intended.

This is one of the reasons it is extremely important to work with a seasoned estate planning and probate attorney to get your affairs in order.  You must work with an expert who knows the law when drafting your documents and who regularly works in the probate court to ensure that your Will is valid and your wishes are respected.

We have never had a do-it-yourself Will get admitted to probate in our firm.  These online form Wills are very generic and just don’t quite do what you need to ensure your loved ones are properly protected, and they are generally not executed properly.  There are simply too many ways to not properly create your Will and then it leads to often disasterous results which cannot be undone, no matter what you wanted.

Make sure you work with a team of lawyers like Shupe Dhawan who know the law, know the probate court system, and do this type of work 100% of the time.  Your choice of attorney is important in a matter like this, so make sure you are informed about your attorneys, and that they practice exclusively in this area of law.  We do what we do best, because this is what we do all the time.

Protect your loved ones, protect your peace of mind.

Schedule your discovery call with our Client Relations Specialist today to begin the process by calling the office at 954-807-4414.


Michelle Shupe-Abbas is the firm’s managing partner and focuses her practice on Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts, Probate & Trust Administration and Litigation.  She is a seasoned attorney, with significant legal experience and handles litigation and transactional matters for her clients.

Make sure to visit our website at to learn more about the firm and partners!

You can also find us on FacebookLinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, or and you can follow our blog.

Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts • Homeowner’s Insurance Claims • Probate & Trust Administration and Litigation

Call Now Button