Even though Michael Jackson's father was not included as a beneficiary in his will or trust, it hasn't stopped Joe Jackson from trying to intercede in the legal proceedings surrounding the estate. First, he asked the judge to remove estate executors John Branca and John McClain.
The probate judge dismissed his claims, saying he lacked "standing" in the estate because he was not a beneficiary. In other words, he did not have enough of a financial interest in the estate to be able to legally complain about who was in charge.
Recently, Joe Jackson filed an appeal of that decision, arguing that he was financially dependent on his son while he was alive, so he did have enough of an interest to attack the executors.
This argument is a long shot, at best. Joe Jackson requested an allowance from the estate initially, but he recently withdrew that request. More importantly, Michael did not choose to leave any of his assets to his father, so even if he supported his father while alive, he made no provisions for this to continue after he died.
Joe's attorney is pushing forward with the appeal anyway, arguing that Joe's due process rights were violated and the judge failed to treat him "with dignity and worth." He also accuses the executors of a laundry-list of misdeeds, including embezzlement, mismanagement and fraud. The executors, of course, deny these claims.
The attorney appointed to represent Michael's children says that Joe's filings cause harm to the children and the estate by dragging out the legal proceedings unnecessarily. She also opposes Joe's claims.
But Joe and his lawyer feel that they have an obligation to proceed. They claim the executors violated their legal duties in not pursuing a wrongful death claim against Dr. Conrad Murray and concert promoters AEG (among others). So, Joe says, he was forced to do so.
But that lawsuit was also dismissed ... well, almost. Joe's attorney didn't specify where two of the defendants conducted business, which meant the court couldn't take jurisdiction. Joe Jackson's lawyer was permitted to fix the error and amend his lawsuit, which he recently did. So his wrongful death lawsuit can proceed, at least for now.
Of course, Dr. Murray has bigger legal troubles to worry about. He's been criminally indicted for allegedly causing Michael Jackson's death. That criminal case is tentatively scheduled for trial in early January.
On the other hand, Joe Jackson has legal problems of his own. After 60 years of marriage, Katherine Jackson reportedly says she's filing for divorce from him. So even though she is a beneficiary of Michael Jackson's Trust, Joe won't be able to benefit from it.
It's been a busy summer for the Jackson family ... and this only covers the recent events. Here's our recap of the first year of legal wranglings in Michael Jackson's estate.
Court fights involving estates sure can be messy, and not just for those who are famous. If you find yourself involved in a legal fight over a will, trust or estate, it's important to work with an experienced probate litigation attorney to help you navigate through it. This area of the law is too complicated to trust a lawyer who doesn't specialize in probate and estate planning-related court battles.
Posted by: Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of Trial and Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founders of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. Andrew and Danielle are husband and wife attorneys, professional speakers and consultants across the country. Follow us on Facebook and Google+.