Family feud over Michael Jackson's estate escalates
A statement issued on behalf of Janet Jackson, her brother Randy and sister Rebbie accused the executors of trying to divide the family and distract from questions about the legitimacy of Michael Jackson’s will.
“The negative media campaign generated by the executors and their agents has been relentless,” wrote Blair G. Brown, a Washington, D.C., attorney for Janet Jackson.
Allegations that the siblings were holding their 82-year-old mother against her will in Arizona made international headlines last week and resulted in a new custody arrangement in which the family matriarch shares guardianship of Michael Jackson’s three children.
In the statement, Brown disputed reports that the siblings were trying to enlist their mother in a battle over the will for their own financial benefit.
“They stand to gain nothing financially by a finding that the will is invalid,” Brown wrote. “What will be gained...is that the executors will be replaced and the estate and the guardianship will be managed in a manner that is in the best interest of the children, which is what Michael wanted.”
The 2002 will accepted by a probate judge after Michael Jackson’s death three years ago gave music industry veterans John Branca and John McClain control of an estate with an estimated worth of $1 billion.
The court-approved compensation plan gives the executors a 10% cut of some earnings.
A spokesman for the estate said Friday evening that the legal window for challenging the will has closed, but that two prior wills also named Branca executor and gave no power to Jackson’s siblings.
In his statement, Brown accused the executors of barring the three siblings from visiting their mother at the Calabasas home where she lives with her grandchildren.
"The effect...not only is to damage fundamental family relationships, it is also to isolate Katherine Jackson from anyone questioning the validity of the will,” Brown wrote.
The executors’ spokesman said Katherine Jackson and the children’s newly appointed co-guardian, Tito Joe “T.J.” Jackson, have the final say in who is allowed at the residence.
Photo: Katherine Jackson and Michael Jackson in 2005. Credit: Getty Images