It’s not my intention to turn this blog in to a celebrity gossip site. However, there are a number of legal issues regarding Michael Jackson’s estate that are continuously being reported on by reporters who do not fully understand (or do not care about) the nuances involved. The latest batch of confusion involves the disposition of Jackson’s assets in the Michael Jackson Family Trust.
As I previously posted, on July 1, Jackson’s Will was filed with the Cour along with a Petition for Probate. His will is what is known as a “Pourover Will” because it pours over any assets that Jackson owned in his individual name and not in the name of the Michael Jackson Family Trust, into the Trust. The Petition for Probate listed Jackson’s mother Katherine and his three minor children as primary beneficiaries, along with a number of other Jacksons (who I assume are his nieces and nephews) as secondary or contingent beneficiaries.
There is no legal requirement for a Trust to be released to the public. In fact, one of the reasons to do a Trust, especially if you are very wealthy or a celebrity is to keep your affairs private after your death. That being said, like everything else involved in this case, I expect a full version of the Trust to be leaked any day now. Already the press is reporting on, as TMZ so bluntly put it, “Who Gets What”. According to the reports, “Katherine Jackson will get 40% of the assets. Michael’s 3 kids will get another 40%. And the remaining 20% goes to several children’s charities.”
This cannot be completely accurate. While I have not yet seen the document, I am 100% positive that each of Jackson’s mother, and his children are to receive their shares in trust, with a the trustee having the power to make or not make distributions of income or principal according to certain standards.
There are a number of reasons for this, from a tax perspective, from a creditor and asset protection perspective, and from a “Control” (yes, that’s Janet, not Michael) perspective.
Later today I’ll explain why. (I’d do it now but I have to go to a client meeting. Blogging is fun but doesn’t pay my mortgage).