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Jackson's family steps in

LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson's family moved quickly Monday to take control of his complicated personal and financial affairs, winning temporary custody of his three children and asking a judge to name the King of Pop's mother as administrator of his estate.

In documents filed in Superior Court, Jackson's parents said they believe their 50-year-old son died without a valid will.

They also made it clear they believe they should take charge of his debt-ridden but potentially lucrative financial empire and act as permanent caretakers of his children.

Judge Mitchell Beckloff granted 79-year-old Katherine Jackson temporary guardianship of the children, ranging in age from 7 to 12. He did not immediately rule on requests to take charge of the children's and Jackson's estates.

Beckloff scheduled a hearing for July 6 and another for Aug. 3 to consider those issues and whether Katherine Jackson should be appointed the children's permanent guardian.

The judge later on Monday granted Katherine Jackson the right to control her son's personal property now in the hands of an unnamed third party. The ruling does not detail the nature of the items and does not provide control of any money in the estate.

When Jackson died Thursday, he left behind a 12-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter by his ex-wife Deborah Rowe, as well as a 7-year-old son born to a surrogate mother.

The Jackson family said the children — Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (known as Prince Michael), Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael II — are living at the Jackson family compound in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.

"They have a long established relationship with paternal grandmother and are comfortable in her care," the family said in court documents.

The documents state that although Rowe is the mother of the two older children, her whereabouts are unknown. The document simply listed "none" for the mother of the youngest child, Prince Michael II.

The Jacksons say they have not heard from Rowe since their son's death.

Meanwhile, authorities continued to investigate Jackson's death. Officials with the Los Angeles County coroner's office returned to the mansion he was renting at the time of his death and left with two large plastic bags of evidence.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said the bags contained medication. He declined to elaborate.

Joe Jackson, the singer's father, told reporters at the family compound that his son's funeral was still in the planning stages.

"It will be some private, but not closed all the way down to the public," he said without elaborating.

His son, who had not released a recording or performed in years, was believed to be hundreds of millions of dollars in debt at the time of his death. However, his finances are complicated and could take years to unravel.

Clearly one of his most valuable assets is his recording catalog. There could also be recordings in Jackson's estate that he had never released.

There's also a financial bonanza to be had in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing catalog of which Jackson owned 50 percent. The 750,000-song catalog includes music by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Lady Gaga and the Jonas Brothers, and is estimated to be worth as much as $2 billion.

LOS ANGELES

Project completed before star's death

Two weeks before he died, Michael Jackson wrapped up work on an elaborate production dubbed the "Dome Project" that could be the final finished video piece overseen by the King of Pop, the Associated Press has learned. Details on the project are scarce. Two people with knowledge of the project confirmed its existence Monday to the AP on condition they not be identified because they signed confidentiality agreements. Four sets were constructed for Jackson's production, including a cemetery recalling his 1983 Thriller video. Shooting for the project lasted from June 1-9, with Jackson on the set most days. Now in post-production, the project is expected to be completed next month. Producer Robb Wagner, founder of music-video company Stimulated Inc., did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the project. It's unclear what final form or forms the video project will take. According to Stimulated's Web site, the company was hired to produce screen content for Jackson's planned comeback concerts in London.

Associated Press

Jackson's family steps in 06/29/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 29, 2009 11:47pm]
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