The ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T.’ singer died of cancer in August, but two months before she passed away, officers in Michigan began looking into an allegation that some of her assets had been stolen.
Sources told TMZ that the investigation involves someone inappropriately using her funds, but it isn’t currently clear how much money has gone missing.
The revelation about the alleged theft came about because the estate is currently locked in a battle with Aretha’s 61-year-old son Edward – who was born when the Queen of Soul was just 14 years old – as he has been trying to get a court order to force the estate to produce monthly financial documents for his mother’s heirs.
However, according to The Blast, the estate is reluctant to freely turn over the information because they are concerned it could negatively impact the criminal investigation by police into the missing assets.
In addition, the estate is also locked in a dispute between one of Aretha’s ex-husbands regarding music royalties and they are concerned the records and other materials requested “may jeopardise these matters and should not be disclosed.”
The estate wants the court to shut down Edward’s attempt to get the records so the police may continue their investigation.
Last month, the IRS filed a claim in Oakland County Probate Court alleging the Franklin estate owed millions in back taxes and penalties.
Despite court records allegedly showing the ‘Natural Woman’ hitmaker – who had four sons and married twice – owed more than $6.3 million in back taxes from 2012 to 2018 and $1.5 million in penalties, an attorney for the estate claims they have paid off $3 million and are in dispute over the figures.
Lawyer David Bennett said: “All of her returns have been filed. We have disputes with the IRS regarding what they claim was income. We claim its double-dipping income because they don’t understand how the business works.
“She had to pay for transportation, hotel rooms, back-up singers, musicians. When she did that, the IRS was questioning the returns she filed. We’re going through audits. Returns were filed as timely as we could get them filed.”