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Julie Garber

The Latest on Michael Jackson's Estate - Choice of Permanent Executor Deferred

By August 5, 2009

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On Monday the saga of settling Michael Jackson's estate continued in a Los Angeles court room. While one issue was decided - the granting of permanent custody of Michael Jackson's three minor children, Michael Joseph "Prince" Jackson, Jr., Paris Katherine Michael Jackson, and Prince Michael "Blanket" Jackson II, to Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson - another was once again postponed - the appointment of permanent executor(s) to oversee Michael Jackson's estate. Judge Mitchell Beckloff has given Katherine Jackson until October 2 to come up with all of the reasons why she should be given control over her son's estate, which is contrary to what Michael Jackson stated in his Last Will and Testament. In his will, which was signed in July 2002, Michael Jackson named family attorney John Branca, music executive John McClain, and accountant Barry Siegel to serve as co-executors, but in a letter dated August 26, 2003, Barry Siegel declined to serve as a co-executor.

Katherine Jackson has been hesitant to out and out challenge the appointment of Branca and McClain as permanent co-executors of her son's estate due to a provision contained in the Michael Jackson Family Trust. A review of the probate notes posted with regard to Michael Jackson's probate court proceeding on Monday revealed that while Jackson's July 2002 will does not contain a "no contest" clause, the Michael Jackson Family Trust does.

What is a "no contest" clause? A provision in a will or trust which states that if a beneficiary challenges any provision of the will or trust, then the beneficiary will be cut out and receive nothing. The probate notes stated that there are questions under California law as to whether challenging who is appointed as the executor of Michael Jackson's estate would amount to a legal action that would trigger the no contest clause contained in the Michael Jackson Family Trust. Thus, before filing any type of formal objection to the appointment of Branca and McClain, Katherine Jackson's attorneys will need to determine if the no contest clause contained in the Family Trust will be triggered by the objection, thereby reducing Katherine Jackson's alleged 40% share of the Family Trust down to nothing.

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