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Aretha Franklin left handwritten wills.  What does that mean to you?

Aretha Franklin passed away last year from pancreatic cancer.  Today, it was announced that three handwritten wills were discovered in her Michigan home.  When she passed away, lawyers and family members said she had no will, but now two were found in a locked cabinet and one was found under cushions in her living room.  Franklin’s sons have varying levels of objection to how the estate is being handled and the possible admission of the handwritten wills. 

So, what does this mean to you?

Under South Carolina law (SC Code 62-2-502), a will must be:

  1. In writing;

  2. Signed by the person making it, known as the “Testator” (or signed by someone else in the Testator’s presence and at their direction); and

  3. Signed by at least two people who witnessed the signing or the acknowledgement of the signature on the will by the Testator.

The Testator may leave a written statement disposing of their tangible personal property (not money or business property).  This written statement may be handwritten by the Testator or signed by the Testator.

So, under South Carolina law, Aretha Franklin’s handwritten wills would likely not be valid since they were not signed with two witnesses.  However, a personal property distribution in this format likely would be held valid.

The Lesson:

If you are considering executing a legal document to dispose of your assets at death, it is best to find a South Carolina licensed attorney who practices in the area of “Estate Planning” or “Wills and Trusts” to make sure your wishes are carried out after your passing.

For more information on our estate planning services, please visit or call us at 803-563-5163

LawyerLisa, LLC 3202 Fernandina Road Columbia, SC 29210 Phone: 803.563.5163

LawyerLisa, LLC 5175 Sunset Boulevard Ste 1 Lexington, SC 29072 Phone: 803.832.1068

LawyerLisa, LLC 100 Williams Street Greenville, SC 29601 Phone: 864.990.0347

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