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More from the Jacko file

By | Published on Wednesday 1 July 2009

OK, a load more Jacko news for you. And first, Mr Jackson’s last will and testament. As previously reported, there has been some confusion over whether or not Jackson left a will; early reports suggested there may be two competing documents, while earlier this week the late singer’s family said they believed their son and sibling actually died without any valid will being drawn up.

However, according to the Associated Press, attorney John Branca, a frequent business associate of Jackson, has told the family and authorities that he is in possession of a valid will signed by the singer. Branca, who, among other things, negotiated Jackson’s purchase of the ATV music publishing company in 1985, reportedly reckons the will he has in his possession is the singer’s most recent statement regarding his affairs post-death.

Although Branca formally stopped working with Jacko in 2006, before the singer’s finances seemingly spiralled out of control, he had reportedly been rehired by the singer just three weeks ago. It’s thought Branca and former major label exec and long term Jacko confidante John McClain are named as executors on that will, which could date from 2002.

There are confused and conflicting reports as to what might be in the will, though it’s not clear what the sources of those reports may be because I’m not sure Branca has shared the document with anyone as yet. TMZ are reporting that the attorney plans to file the will with the LA court later today. But the two things that most of the reports about what is in the will agree on is that his mother, Katherine, will be given custody of his children, while his father, Joe, is frozen out completely.

As previously reported, Katherine has already been given temporary custody of Jackson’s three kids. The court also gave her temporary responsibility for her late son’s personal possessions. Her permanent role in overseeing Jackson’s property, however, will depend very much on the will, and maybe the opinion of the courts. Some experts say that the fact that Jacko’s parents went bankrupt ten years ago might impact on Katherine’s chances of becoming sole administrator of her son’s estate, even though the couple are no longer officially bankrupts.

Rumours are already circulating that if Joe Jackson is completely frozen out of his son’s will that he might sue to get a cut of the loot. On what grounds such a legal action would be based isn’t clear. As an aside, Hits Daily Double report that Reverend Al Sharpton, one of the first people to comment on Jacko’s death last week, and who has since been seen supporting Jackson Senior, is already distancing himself from the singer’s father, wary of getting caught up in some nasty intra-family litigation. Especially as, given the stories of the way Joe treated his children during the Jackson Five hey day, the press is unlikely to be generous to the patriarch in any legal disputes.

Exactly what kind of loot there is to share between the beneficiaries of Jackson’s will remains unclear, though the consensus remains that, despite all the debt issues in recent years, Jacko was very solvent if his stake in publishing company Sony/ATV is included in the mix. Documents obtained by the AP relating to Jacko’s financial position in 2007 concluded that the singer was worth $236.6 million when his debts were subtracted from the value of his assets.

Some point out his outgoings since then have been substantial and are unlikely to have been covered by his income, which was exclusively based on royalty and dividend payments from past work and business deals. That said, Sony/ATV has also grown over that time. The 2007 documents reportedly valued Jacko’s share of the music publisher at $390 million, and I’ve seen much higher estimates more recently.