Sabrina Owens, the niece of Aretha Franklin, has decided to step down from her position as representative of Franklin’s estate.
Franklin passed in 2018 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. In 2019, the singer’s family discovered three different handwritten wills, which has since divided the family.
In a letter filed in a court in the Metro Detroit area Thursday, Owens said, “My primary goal was to honor my aunt by handling her business professionally, fairly, and within the law. In spite of my best efforts, my role with the estate has become more contentious with the heirs. Given my aunt’s love of family and desire for privacy, this is not what she would have wanted for us, nor is it what I want.”
The family originally thought Franklin died without a will until they came across the docs in her home nine months later, with one being found under a couch cushion in the living room.
According to one of the wills, Franklin wanted her son Kecalf Franklin to serve as an executor or representative for her estate, ABC News reports.
But, Owens explained that from the moment Franklin became ill in 2010, to her passing in 2018, she was by her side, and as a result, Franklin personally requested that her to handle all “personal and business matters.”
Beginning in February 2018, Owens started to, “quietly started drafting the blueprint for her homegoing service, based on what I believed my aunt would have wanted.”
Franklin went on to pass six short months later on Aug. 16, aged 76.
Owens hard work for the “Queen of Soul” paid off as, “The result was a weeklong celebration of her life, in services and events in August 2018,” Owens recollected.
Afterwards, Owens said Franklin’s four boys requested that she take the position as representative of the estate.
“She trusted me and was always confident I would exercise good judgment and try to make the best decisions on her behalf,” Owens remembered. “She often said that I was ‘worth my weight in gold.’”
Owens recounted agreeing to take on the role under the following circumstances: “no fractured relationship develop within the family” and “we did not end up in court disputes over disagreements with the estate,” however, according to Owens, both guidelines have been severed.
“I hope that my departure will allow the business of the estate to continue, calm the rift in my family and allow me to return to my personal life,” Owens wrote. “I love my cousins, hold no animosity towards them, and wish them the best.”
According to ABC News, the estate reported $17 million worth of assets at the end of August, with $10.5 million being accounted for as “master recordings” and “publishing rights.”
A mediator has reportedly been working privately with the family.
A court hearing that was scheduled prior to Owens leaving her position is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.