Jackson Family Seeks Delay in Naming Will Executor

LOS ANGELES -- The Jackson family is reportedly seeking to delay a hearing today in which two men will be named as temporary administrators of Michael Jackson's estate, as stated in his will.

The family wants to investigate further the circumstances and people surrounding the King of Pop in the days before his death, according to a source close to the family.

The family also wants the additional time to wait and see if a newer will emerges, as well as to accommodate Jackson's memorial service Tuesday, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly.

The will -- filed in a downtown Los Angeles courthouse June 1 -- gives guardianship of Michael Jackson's children to the singer's mother, Katherine Jackson, 79, and leaves all his assets in the Michael Jackson Family Trust Fund.

Read Jackson's Will

The contents of that trust are not specified, but it reportedly provides for Michael's children and mother, and distributes money to several charities.

The document was apparently signed on July 7, 2002, and names Jackson's longtime lawyer John Branca and music executive and family friend John McClain as executors. Jackson's former accountant Barry Siegel was also named as an executor, but he resigned from that role in 2003.

In court filings, attorneys for Katherine Jackson ask Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff to delay naming Branca and McClain as the estate's administrators. Attorneys forthe two men argue their appointment is crucial to controlling Jackson's diverse financial interests and its liabilities, which include refunds due on a series of London concerts that have been canceled, and several lawsuits.

Jackson's mother wants to know what happened to her son before she hands over control of his estate, which is estimated in court filings as being worth more than $500 million, the source said.

The singer's financial empire also includes an estimated $400 million in debt.

Jackson's father Joseph isn't mentioned in the will.

Jackson's former wife Deborah Rowe is also not given any inheritance. "I have intentionally omitted to provide for my former wife, Deborah Jean Rowe Jackson," the will states.

Additionally, the will says that if Katherine died before him or couldn't serve as guardian, he nominated Diana Ross.

The will bears Jackson's signature and many paragraphs of the five-page document are initialed "MJ."

Branca and McClain released a statement last week saying, "The most important element of Michael's will is his unwavering desire that his mother, Katherine, become the legal guardian of his three children. As we work to carry out Michael's instructions to safeguard both the future of his children as well as the remarkable legacy he left us as an artist, we ask that all matters involving his estate be handled with the dignity and respect that Michael and his family deserve."

Judge Mitchell Beckloff gave Katherine Jackson temporary guardianship of Michael's three children, as well as some control of Michael's personal assets. The temporary guardianship expires on July 13.

The judge did not immediately rule on Katherine Jackson's requests to take control of the children's estate and Michael's estate.

As for custody, the will is taken into consideration, but ultimately the decision on who gets custody is in the hands of the judge.

Rowe is apparently considering seeking custody of her two children with the pop star, Prince Michael Jr., 12 and Paris Michael Katherine, 11. She reportedly has not seen the kids in years.

Jackson's third child, Prince Michael II, 7, came from a surrogate mother whose name has not been revealed.

Jackson family attorney L. Londell McMillan said he saw the 2002 will for the first time last week.

"We are in the process of reviewing it. We did not see it prior to the filing. We wish we had known about it earlier," McMillan said.

Experts said the personal bankruptcy of Jackson's parents in 1999 could work against Katherine taking control of the estate.

Court documents show Katherine and Joe Jackson filed for Chapter 7 and listed nearly $24 million in debts that included court judgments, auto loans and credit cards.

The only valuable asset listed was a house in Las Vegas then valued at $290,000. The bankruptcy was terminated in March 2007, but the documents gave no further details.

"I think it would be a negative factor but not necessarily a disqualifier," said Beth Kaufman, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney specializing in estate tax issues. "It could indicate that she is not capable of sound financial management."

More details emerged about the recent state of Michael Jackson's finances. The Associated Press reported that Jackson claimed to have a net worth of $236.6 million as of March 31, 2007.

Jackson reportedly refinanced loans later in 2007 that increased his debt by tens of millions of dollars. The Sony/ATV Music Publishing joint venture Jackson was part of also spend hundreds of millions acquiring new songs.

The legendary pop star died June 25 after being rushed to UCLA Medical Center in cardiac arrest.

An autopsy completed by the Los Angeles County coroner was inconclusive, pending results of toxicology tests.

The coroner's office said there were no signs of foul play or trauma to the body, but that more tests were needed to determine the exact cause of death. Those include toxicology tests that could take up to eight weeks to complete.

The pop star's family reportedly ordered an independent autopsy. A private lab could get results sooner than the usual four to six weeks it takes the coroner's office to get toxicology reports.

The second autopsy could allow the family to get some information about Michael's death almost immediately, including signs of heart, brain or lung disease or fresh needle punctures.

Rev. Al Sharpton, a family friend, said the family was getting a second autopsy because they wanted to be sure they have all the facts, not because they have any specific suspicions.

The Jackson family wants to know who was around Michael in the days before he died. They think it's possible that handlers from concert promoter AEG Live might have been with him, but it's not clear if this is the case. AEG was organizing a multimillion-dollar series of 50 Jackson concerts in London that were slated to begin next month.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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