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Michael Jackson estate: Mother loses control, but retains a say in major decisions

July 6, 2009 |  1:22 pm

In shifting control of Michael Jackson’s estate away from his mother, a Superior Court judge took the unusual step of ordering the newly empowered administrators to consult with Katherine Jackson in any major business decisions.

Judge Mitchell Beckloff  said that until an Aug. 3 hearing when longtime control of the estate will be addressed, such deals require the approval of the court and input from the performer’s 79-year-old mother.

The judge said executors John McClain and John Branca do not need Katherine Jackson’s permission to hammer out contracts, but that he would consider her opinions of deals before signing off on them.

“I didn’t appoint Katherine Jackson as a co-administrator and I am not saying she has to approve everything.... I’m just trying to open up that free flow of information,” said Beckloff, the head of the probate division.

At a news conference after the hearing, an attorney for Jackson’s parents said he was “relatively pleased” with the outcome of the proceeding, citing the judge’s decision to listen to Katherine Jackson’s wishes as he evaluates plans proposed by Branca and McClain.

“We will be watching closely,” attorney L. Londell McMillan said.

In papers filed today, Katherine Jackson’s attorneys argued she is best-positioned to oversee her son’s estate because she is the only one who has consistently and directly been in involved with his business affairs throughout his career.

Both in the filing and in the hearing, attorneys referred to an earlier will that has been filed with the court. Burt Levitch,  Katherine Jackson’s attorney, said at a news conference that the second will is from 1997 and would not become relevant unless the 2002 will is found to be invalid. While attorneys for Branca and McClain said they went through an exhaustive search for any additional wills and found none that were more recent, Katherine Jackson’s attorneys questioned how extensive the search was and contended that it remains possible other wills may surface before the Aug. 3 hearing.

“Many open questions remain about his final days, and the circumstances of his death and the existence of other competing wills,” attorneys for Katherine Jackson wrote.

-- Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim, at Los Angeles Superior Court



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