Paul L. Caron

Friday, June 26, 2009

Settling Michael Jackson's Estate May Be a Thriller for the Lawyers

Michael Jackson Business Week:  Settling Michael Jackson's Estate May Be a Thriller, by Christopher Palmeri:

The King of Pop will likely leave behind one royal estate battle.

Michael Jackson, the onetime child star whose string of hit songs got people boogying from Boise to Bahrain, died suddenly on June 25 after being rushed to UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles in a coma. The singer faced a near-constant drumbeat of legal troubles in life. He'll likely cue up plenty of them in death as well.

Although he sold hundreds of millions of records, Jackson's biggest financial hit is a 50% interest in a music publishing catalog that includes the rights to the Beatles' songs.

Jackson, 50, always stayed one beat ahead of a conga line of creditors. At every turn there seemed to be one more wealthy benefactor to bail him out.

Wall Street Journal:  Jackson Estate Likely A Tangled Affair, by Arden Dale:

Along with the hit songs and his title as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson will leave a tangled estate. Debt, a byzantine array of business ventures and a non-traditional family promise to be among the legacies of the singer, who died unexpectedly on Thursday at age 50.

Three themes will surely be prominent as the story unfolds, according to Renee Gabbard, a partner and head of the wealth management practice in the Costa Mesa, Calif. office of law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP. They are privacy, royalties and the estate tax.

Administering an estate like Jackson's requires an almost military-style operation, with lawyers poring over reams of contracts. "You have to marshall it, and be extremely organized and logical," says Gabbard. Jackson was famously private and his lawyers are likely to try to preserve that legacy. If a California resident, the singer is likely to have left a revocable trust that can keep many details of the estate secret. Nonetheless, it's difficult to get all of the assets in a huge, complex estate into a revocable trust. Contracts, royalties, partnerships and other elements of the estate invariably get left out.

WSJ Law Blog: On Michael Jackson and the Law:

When the immediate tributes and remembrances and eulogies have run their course on the King of Pop, attention will likely turn to a handful of more mundane questions: what happens to Neverland, to his collection of curios; what, if anything, becomes of the rights to his musical legacy? All of these questions, of course, will involve lawyers. Dozens upon dozens of lawyers.

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His children should get it all. That's the only right thing to do. I know it's not that simple, but isn't it that simple?

Posted by: Ares Vista | Jun 29, 2009 8:53:04 AM

Sorry, in the age of Obama all the estate goes to Washington, DC to be divvied up among the government and unions. To heck with any contracts.

Posted by: Peter | Jun 27, 2009 6:43:42 AM