Jackson Family Deserves Justice in Fight Over Michael Jackson's Estate, Writes Ian Halperin (EXCLUSIVE GUEST BLOG)
Writing exclusively for Celebuzz, New York Times best-selling investigative journalist Ian Halperin ('Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson') predicts the five Jackson siblings who accused executors John McClain and John Blanca of fraud and abuse of their mother, Katherine, are headed for a court battle of "epic proportions" -- all at the expense of letting their brother, the King of Pop, rest in peace.
The scathing letter from five of Michael Jackson’s disinherited siblings claiming that the singer’s will is “Fake, Flawed and Fraudulent”-- leaked exclusively to Celebuzz -- confirms what I told Entertainment Tonight a week after the King of Pop's death: Michael left a will and an estate that will be mired in messy estate litigation for years to come.
Who is responsible for this colossal mess? Not his siblings, who are justifiably concerned about the authenticity of the 2002 will and the finances of their late superstar brother’s legacy.
Nor is it the executors of his estate, John Branca and John McClain, who have done an admirable job of generating millions from royalties in music and merchandise to clear up the nearly $400 million debt Michael left behind. Simply, they seem to be astute executors, doing the job the Los Angeles Superior Court and California Supreme Court determined they should do, when they validated the 2002 will a couple years ago.
All the responsibility should be put upon Michael's greedy handlers during his final years, who did nothing to prepare him in case he died. The leeches who handled his career during his final years, including the the shadowy figure Dr. Thome Thome, failed to get Michael the professional advice he needed for a proper estate plan that would have avoided the expensive and protracted legal fights that have ensued since the singer's passing.
“We knew this would eventually all come to a boil,” a former member of Michael's household staff tells me. “The people around Michael the final year of his life were dreadful and were only concerned about lining their own pockets. Since Michael died, there’s been a lot of questions raised about whether the 2002 will was actually his most recent will. I’m not sure it was and that’s why I can’t blame his brothers and sisters for being so mad. What if in five years another will is found? The resentment and regrets of his family will grow more than ever."
Added the insider: "I knew Michael well and I’m sure that’s not how he would have wanted all this to go down. So I have to side with and commend his siblings for trying to get to the bottom of this sooner rather than later.”
The place where Branca and McClain seem to have erred is how far from the crux of the matter they are when they took the defensive, suggesting that Michael's siblings are merely upset over being excluded from the will.
“We are saddened that false and defamatory accusations grounded in stale Internet conspiracy theories are now being made by certain members of Michael’s family whom he chose to leave out of his will,” their statement to Celebuzz said.
Branca and McClain fail to understand that Michael's siblings are more concerned than just a clash over cash and indeed want the best interests of those named in the 2002 will, Michael's three children -- Prince Michael Jr, 15, Paris, 14 and Prince Michael II “Blanket", 10 -- and his mother Katherine, 82, to be looked after.
But they also want justice. And who can blame them?
After being denied access to their beloved superstar brother by his greedy handlers in his final years, why shouldn’t they stand up for their rights and the rights of their late brother’s legacy by challenging the authenticity of his will? Michael might have been naïve, but he was certainly nobody’s fool.
And no matter what transpired in the sometime turbulent rivalry between him and his siblings -- and his father, Joe Jackson -- Michael always maintained a love for his family that he always said was unconditional. Would he have wanted his siblings excluded from his will? Very unlikely, especially after the incredible support they showed Michael during the 2005 trial, long after the 2002 will, when he was acquitted of child molestation charges.
“The executors should not have made their response public,” a source close to the Jackson family tells me.
“The family is still grieving. They’ll never get over the loss of Michael. Branca and McClain should try to work this out behind the scenes to prevent a public feud with his family, something Michael would have never tolerated.”
Instead of holding hands, it's evident that a major court battle drawn out in the media and public will reach epic proportions between the Jacksons and Branca and McClain. So the question must be asked: When will all the innuendo and lawsuits over Michael finally be shelved so that we may finally let him rest in peace?