It is well known that Michael Jackson lived a captivating lifestyle. From successful records, to extraordinary pets, to palatial mansions, he was undoubtedly the King of Pop. It therefore came to me as no surprise to learn that his Estate is as equally entertaining. An article by Forbes highlights the top legal challenges facing the executors of Michael Jackson’s Estate.
1. The AEG Wrongful Death Trial. Since publication of the Forbes article, a Los Angeles jury found AEG Live not liable. Although the jury found in the affirmative that AEG hired Dr. Conrad Murray (who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter after giving Jackson a deadly dose of propofol in June 2009), they answered in the negative whether Dr. Murray was unfit or incompetent at the time to be Jackson’s doctor. Apparently, during the trial, one of the estate consultants testified in favour of AEG, and against the Jackson heirs.
2. The Tax Man. Michael Jackson’s Estate filed a tax return, reportedly claiming assets worth about $7 million on the date of his death. Conversely, the US Internal Revenue Service has valued Jackson’s Estate at approximately $1.5 billion. The IRS has now issued a tax bill of $702 million to the Jackson Estate. The Estate is now suing the IRS.
3. The Queen of Pop. Although generally believed that Deborah Rowe is the mother to Prince, and Paris, two of Jackson’s children, a recent court filing by Christine Leroux claims she was the egg donor for all three of Jackson’s children. As such, Leroux will pursue a custody battle through a guardianship proceeding. In the court filing, Leroux also claims that she co-wrote the songs, Thriller and Heal the World.
4. Jackson 5. The siblings have accused the executors of fraud, forgery, exploitation and abuse. They have also alleged that Jackson’s July 7, 2002 Will was fake. However, at this time, the only family member with legal standing is Katherine Jackson, Jackson’s mother.
The article concludes with one very important estate planning lesson: carefully consider who should serve as executor or trustee. It is important that whoever is decided, be trustworthy, and well qualified to do the job.
Apparently for Jackson’s executors, administering his Estate is not as easy as A..B..C.