Judge: Mom has temp control of Jackson’s property
LOS ANGELES — A judge ruled Wednesday that Katherine Jackson will retain control of 2,000 items from Neverland Ranch until another hearing is held Monday, despite claims that the Jackson family had moved too quickly to take control of the pop star’s $500 million estate.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff called for a speedy compromise between attorneys for Katherine Jackson and the two co-executors of Michael Jackson’s will — lawyer John Branca and John McClain, a music executive and a family friend.
“I would like the family to sit down and try to make this work so that we don’t have a difficult time in court,” the judge said.
The decision came after Paul Gordon Hoffman, an attorney for Branca and McClain, told Beckloff his clients were the proper people to take over Jackson’s financial affairs.
He said Katherine Jackson’s attorneys had already overstepped their authority by sending letters seeking documents and money from people who control Jackson’s accounts. Hoffman did not elaborate.
However, he called Jackson’s attempt to get limited power over her son’s estate on Monday, “a race to the courthouse that is frankly improper.”
The judge said he saw no urgency to give the executors authority over the Neverland items this week.
Katherine Jackson’s attorney, L. Londell McMillan, said in a statement they were pleased with Beckloff’s ruling.
On Monday, Beckloff granted Katherine Jackson “slim” authority to take control of the Neverland items that had been slated for auction earlier this year. The sale was stopped after Jackson sued.
Katherine Jackson, 79, had sought to take control of the singer’s financial assets on Monday, but Beckloff refused. Documents filed then by the family said they believed Jackson died without a valid will.
Records show Katherine Jackson’s petition was filed just hours before Branca met with the family and presented them with a copy of the will and the trust that is designated to receive all his assets.
Family spokesman Shawn Sachs did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Details of the trust were not revealed.
Katherine Jackson’s attorneys wrote in a court filing that the Neverland memorabilia was being held by a former Jackson representative. Beckloff said Wednesday he thought it was valid to be concerned that some of those items might go missing.
Earlier in the day, lawyers for Branca and McClain presented a five-page, typed will signed by Michael Jackson that named his mother as the guardian of her son’s three children and their estates.
Control of Michael Jackson’s estate — estimated at more than $500 million — goes to Branca and McClain in the will and managed by the trust.
Jackson’s mother and children, ranging in ages from 7 to 12, were named as beneficiaries of a trust.
Another attorney for the executors, Jeryll S. Cohen, told Beckloff that Branca and McClain could negotiate a deal this week to minimize a hit to Jackson’s estate from the refund of an estimated $85 million in tickets sold for a series of London concerts.
Michael Jackson had been in the late stages of preparing for those concerts when he unexpectedly died in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Associated Press writer Jacob Adelman in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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