A Los Angeles judge handed temporary control of Michael Jackson's multimillion dollar estate on Monday to a lawyer and music industry executive named as co-executors in his 2002 will.
Lawyer John Branca and executive John McClain were named executors in a will Jackson signed in 2002 that left his estate, valued at more than $500 million, to a trust benefiting his three children, his mother and charities.
The judge last week gave temporary control to Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, before the will surfaced, but with the 2002 document now filed in court, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said the law compels that he put the executors in charge.
Beckloff set another court hearing for August 3 to review the case, and said Branca and McClain must keep 79-year-old Katherine Jackson apprised of their dealings.
We are relatively pleased with Judge Beckloff's ruling this morning. He's taken the unusual step of requiring that Ms. Jackson be kept informed of the administration of his estate in this preliminary phase, said Burt Levitch, an attorney for Katherine Jackson.
An attorney for Branca and McClain said they would carry out the pop star's wishes and maximize his estate's value.
The value remains an open question. Although the 2002 will valued Michael Jackson's holdings at more than $500 million, the 50-year-old singer was reported to be as much as $500 million in debt when he died of cardiac arrest on June 25.
Jackson owned one-half of Sony-ATV, which controls a music catalog which includes songs from The Beatles and other artists and has been valued as high as $1 billion. Jackson also owned a company that controlled the rights to music he recorded during his solo career, and its value is expected to rise over time.
Jackson, a member of The Jackson 5 in the late 1960s and 1970s, embarked on a solo career as an adult, turning out hit albums like Thriller and Off the Wall.
PUBLIC MEMORIAL ON TUESDAY
Since his death, media outlets have reported that powerful narcotics were found in Jackson's rented Los Angeles mansion, but none have been confirmed. Toxicology results from an official autopsy are expected in about one month.
Acting mayor of Los Angeles Jan Perry initially told a local TV station Jackson's family would hold a private burial at the city's Forest Lawn cemetery at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, but Perry later denied she had any information beyond what she had read or heard in the media. Family representatives have not released a time or date for a private funeral.
Thousands of Jackson fans picked up coveted tickets for a public memorial set for Tuesday morning.
Official details were scant, but media reports said singers Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson and Stevie Wonder were among entertainers expected to perform or attend the event at the Staples Center sports arena in downtown Los Angeles.
Other reports said Jackson's ex-wife would attend the memorial, but her attorney denied that in a statement.
About 1.6 million people registered to be among the 8,750 to receive two free tickets to the event. Successful fans lined up Monday to collect their tickets, although some tried to auction their vouchers on websites like eBay and Craigslist.
Both websites were swiftly removing the listings, which carried asking prices of up to $10,000.