This may shape up as an estate mess for the ages. For some reason, problems like this seem to follow musicians: Ray Charles, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix . . . the list goes on. I've already written many articles about the legacy problems that these and other musicians have left behind.
So it should come as no surprise that the Estate of the King of Pop will follow the same course of wacko-ness. It's been only four days since Michael Jackson suddenly died, at the age of 50, on June 25, 2009. Already, we have a preview of several likely legal challenges.
First, and foremost, there's the question of who will serve as guardian for his three young children. Courts first look to a person's will to answer the question of who should serve this crucial role when the parent dies young. But that only holds true when the second parents dies. In this case, the mother of two of the three children, Deborah Rowe, is still alive. Normally, there wouldn't even be a question; if one parent still lives, that parent gets custody.
But Rowe signed off on her parental rights, as part of a divorce settlement, years ago. But it seems that her rights may not have been legally ended. In 2003, she petitioned to have her rights restored, after one of the child molestation charges against Jackson, and a court of appeals ruled in her favor. She and Jackson then settled in 2006, with the terms being kept confidential (but undoubtedly involving a large sum of money).
Now, Rowe has reportedly vowed to fight for custody, telling friends that as their mother, the kids need her. And to complicate the matter further, because Rowe is mother to just two of the children, the children could be split apart if she prevails.