"Aretha became wealthy very quickly," recalls pop culture insider Michael Pagnotta in the documentary. "Hit after hit meant higher and higher performance fees. Tens of thousands of dollars."
Life, Death & Money reveals that Franklin had a problem with business managers. She tried to handle her career herself and would "keep her money close." According to the doc, she would demand cash up front (upwards of $25,000!) and "stuff it in a purse."
Despite her seemingly peculiar decisions, "Aretha Franklin was a diva," says journalist Janice Littlejohn, lovingly. "When [she] sang 'Respect,' she sang 'Respect' for all of us."
When the Queen of Soul died in 2018, her estate was worth approximately $80 million. Shockingly, despite the fact that Franklin had not left a will behind, everything was peaceful between her four remaining sons.
"It was thought by many people that Aretha Franklin didn't even have a will," explains Mark Roesler of CMG Worldwide. "Then, all of a sudden, not only did they find one will, but they found three wills."
All three wills were handwritten and concealed within her private residence. One was even tucked away under the couch cushions! Making matters worse, the wills seemed to contradict one another and had sections that were illegible. If any one of them were declared valid, it could have sparked a massive feud between Franklin's four sons.
"This created a huge problem for the children and created all kinds of conflict," says Kliph Nesteroff, Comedy Historian.
Unfortunately, the discussion has now turned from Franklin's long and storied career to who will inherit her millions. There is much more to learn in Aretha Franklin: Life, Death & Money, airing on Thursday, May 27, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on REELZ.