Artis Mills, the 72-year-old singer's spouse of 41 years, is seeking a court order to control more than $1 million of James's money, KTLA, Los Angeles reported Thursday.
A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday.
James's son, Donto, told the news program James had entered a treatment program to break her dependency on painkillers and over-the-counter medicine last year. She was later hospitalized with sepsis, he said.
Etta James is best known for her hit song, "At Last."