The Michael Jackson Estate has been the subject of regular court hearings as Katherine Jackson battled for control over the last several months. She routinely objected to the decisions of the co-executors John Branca and John McClain. Recently, she hired a new attorney with the promise of taking the case in a new direction, as I discussed in this recent article about the Michael Jackson case.
Her case took a new direction, all right. She decided to drop her claim. That’s right, she stopped fighting and agreed to let the executors run the show without her.
Surprised? I was. And I was far from the only one. Here’s what a lawyer in the case said about Katherine Jackson’s change of heart, according to CNN:
“She has now reneged on her obligation to her family.” This same lawyer then said that it was “one of the most despicable displays” he’d ever seen in court. He even accused Katherine of colluding with the estate executors in a “secret deal”.
So who was this attorney representing? None other than Joe Jackson — Katherine’s husband of 60 years. Granted, they don’t live together, but obviously, he was taken aback about what happened.
And Joe and his attorney didn’t take it lying down. In fact, they filed their own petition to remove the executors, claiming they had a conflict of interest and failed to disclose to the court that Michael Jackson was in New York the date the will was signed, calling into question whether it is even valid.
But the judge ruled that Joe Jackson didn’t have legal “standing” to make that claim because he wasn’t a beneficiary. In other words, he had no horse in the race, so to speak, so he wasn’t allowed to try to remove the executors. The only ones who can do so are Katherine Jackson, the three children (who are minors — and they act through their guardian, Katherine), or the unnamed charities that so far have not been publicly revealed.
So, at this point, unless Katherine Jackson has another change of heart, or unless another beneficiary comes forward, the legal fighting may be at an end … at least in this court. Joe Jackson’s attorney has promised to appeal the verdict and try his luck in another court.
He did get one bit of good news. The judge allowed him to proceed with his request for a monthly allowance from the Michael Jackson Estate in the amount of $20,000/month. The judge hasn’t agreed to give him that yet, but at least he has the right to file a request for it.
Perhaps trying to pacify her now-angry husband, Katherine Jackson reportedly said she won’t contest his request for an allowance.
Wow this is getting interesting! And I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of this issue. But, we’ll have to wait and see.
The Michael Jackson case shows how important the proper estate planning is for everyone. The better your legal planning, the less likely you’re family will fight over your money when you’re gone. So don’t delay; go see a good estate planning attorney now. Or your family may end up hiring probate litigation attorneys later.
And if you have a loved one in your family who doesn’t want to do estate planning, and you need help convincing him or her, here’s something that may help.
Posted by: Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.