Michael Jackson’s children tell grandmother to “beat it” in estate legal battle

Michael Jackson’s children tell grandmother to “beat it” in estate legal battle

The children of Michael Jackson (Paris, Prince and Bigi) are no longer talking with their grandmother, Katherine Jackson, as a result of her request for Jackson’s estate to pay her legal fees of over $500,000 when she unsuccessfully challenged the sale of the rights to Jackson’s songs.

One of Michael Jackson’s songs entitled “Money” has the following lyrics:

‘So you go to church, read the holy word, in the scheme of life, it’s all absurd. You do anything for money. Anything, Anything for money’.

It seems like Michael Jackson’s mother and children may be unfamiliar with the lyrics.  According to the executors of Michael Jackson’s estate, Katherine Jackson has been paid over $55 million from the late star’s estate since his death.  She has received $160,000 a month from his estate.  She received $15 million to buy and renovate a home.  The estate has paid for a private gardener and a private chef on her behalf.  Now she wants her legal bills for fighting the decisions of the executors (which were approved by the court) to be paid by the estate.  Her grandson, Bigi (formerly known as Blanket) has objected.

Last year the co-executors of the estate approved their request to sell at least ½ of Jackson’s music catalog to Sony worth $1.2 billion.  Katherine Jackson objected as she wanted to wait thinking the value could grow.  Bigi initially supported his grandmother’s opposition, but his attorney said that was a “semantic device” to evaluate the transaction for Bigi.  The executors agreed it was in the best interest of the estate and beneficiaries (primarily Michael Jackson’s children – Paris, Prince and Bigi, as well as charities – to sell without delay).  The executors said that the sale would be at a time that is “by far the hottest it had even been”.  According to the executors, it permitted diversification while maintaining some control.  The court agreed.

When Jackson died, his estate was on the verge of bankruptcy.  The executors (with court approval) have built the estate to being worth over $2 billion. They built the estate with astute business decisions such as the release of a documentary ‘This is it’  that made $260 million (that Katherine Jackson also opposed).

Although Bigi isn’t against paying some of her legal bills as he initially supported the estate paying Katherine’s “reasonable attorney’s fees”, he objects now since he thinks the $840 to $1400 per hour isn’t reasonable.

Katherine Jackson is a lifetime beneficiary of the trust her son, Michael, established for her maintenance.  Katherine’s attorneys are saying the executors had no problem making other distributions from the estate ($35 million to date, including $2.7 million for public relations and $5 million for Katherine’s taxes), so they can pay her attorney fee as well. She thinks the executors are holding funds in the estate to avoid the more liberal distribution for her maintenance and support granted under the trust created within his will.  She also argues there are more than enough assets to pay creditors and that there are still hundreds of millions available for the remainder beneficiaries (primarily her grandchildren although 20% goes to charities).  Bigi has objected saying the estate wouldn’t benefit from paying her legal bills.  Katherine has appealed the judge’s decision to allow the estate to sell the rights (catalog) to some of songs.  If she is successful, then it would be more likely that she would be entitled to have her fees paid from the estate, but it is unlikely that will happen.

‘Anything, anything for money’ applies to Katherine Jackson, her grandchildren and the attorneys.

This legal battle may not be a ‘Thriller’, but it is a sad commentary on reality for many – whether the estate is large or small.  Jackson died in 2009, and there is still no closure.  Apparently, it is all about the money.

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