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2002 Michael Jackson will left assets, grandchildren's guardianship to Katherine Jackson

June 30, 2009 | 11:54 am

A will Michael Jackson signed seven years ago placed his all of his assets in a trust and named his mother as guardian of his children, a source familiar with the document told The Times.

The will is expected to become a central point of contention in what is shaping up to be a legal battle over the performer’s estate.

An L.A. Superior Court judge granted Katherine Jackson, 79, temporary custody of her three grandchildren and temporary and limited control of his assets Monday. Long-term arrangements are to be taken up at a July 6 hearing.

In court papers Monday, her lawyers said the family had not located a will for Jackson but acknowledged the possible existence of a will or multiple wills. The document executed in July 2002 appointed John Branca, Jackson’s longtime entertainment attorney, and John McClain, a music executive who had known the singer since he was a child, as executors, the source said. The role would give the men power to manage Jackson’s finances – an indebted but still profitable music empire – while the court is settling his affairs, a process that could take years.

Katherine Jackson asked in her filings Monday to serve as administrator of his affairs, the term for the person who acts as executor when no valid will exists. In the document, her attorneys appeared to take a swipe at Branca, who represented Jackson from 1980 to 2006 and reportedly rejoined the singer’s business team the week before his death.

 “A possible competing interest is a purported claim of an attorney who long ago was dismissed from the decedent’s group of advisors and about whom the decedent stated that he never wanted the attorney to have anything further to do with his affairs,” the lawyers wrote.

-- Harriet Ryan

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